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Minnesota Department of Transportation plows move onto Minnesota Highway 23 in Spicer. There was only light rain mist in the air as the plows began preparing for the snowstorm expected to hit the area overnight and into today. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Willmar, Minn., conditions likely to be hazardous as snowstorm expected to pack a punch

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WILLMAR -- Difficult travel is predicted this morning with winds blowing whatever snow fell overnight Tuesday.

All of the region was under a winter storm warning by late Tuesday afternoon after an earlier blizzard warning for a small part of west central Minnesota was canceled. The National Weather Service in Chanhassen said winds would not be strong enough to cause widespread whiteout conditions in downgrading the blizzard warning.

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A winter storm warning remained in effect through 6 p.m. today, and the forecast calls for sustained winds and low visibilities at times, with brief periods of whiteout conditions. Tony Zaleski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, said the blowing snow is expected to end this afternoon.

And the snow shouldn't be around long.

Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s by Tuesday.

"Enjoy the snow while it lasts," said Zaleski. "Most of it will be gone by next week."

The National Weather Service said there would be a wide range of snowfall totals across the area from the storm system with a sharp division along a line from Morris to St. Cloud to Rice Lake, Wis. Totals of 6 to 12 inches were expected north of the line with much lesser amounts south.

Zaleski said Tuesday afternoon that west central Minnesota would likely see 6 to 7 inches of heavy snow "before it's all over."

The region braced for the winter storm Tuesday when storm warnings began. Rain began in the region Tuesday afternoon.

Some schools closed early Tuesday, and school sporting events Tuesday night were postponed as well as several community activities.

Some area schools have announced they will be closed to today; others have pushed classes back.

Renville County postponed a drainage meeting that had been planned today. It has been rescheduled to March 28.

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