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Winter may be here early for residents in some parts of the region

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ST. PAUL — The season’s first significant snowfall for most Minnesotans could bring more than half a foot in some places by Wednesday morning.

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The National Weather Service issued a winter storm advisory for a broad swath of the state. The weather service predicts moderate to heavy snow will move into southwestern Minnesota this afternoon, on the heels of a cool rain, and make a beeline to the northeast, reaching western Wisconsin by 6 p.m.

“We’re thinking there’s a chance we could see a stripe of 3 to 5 inches from the Twin Cities area into northwestern Wisconsin,” said Kevin Huyck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth.

However, forecasters said some locations could receive 6 to 7 inches of snow.

Predictions are not firm because how much snow falls depends on several factors, including just where the moist southern air meets drier air coming down from the north.

Snow was expected to miss the northwestern part of the state, but much of the state likely will be covered with white by daybreak Wednesday.

Minnesota counties in the winter storm advisory are Anoka, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Faribault, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Le Sueur, Martin, McLeod, Nicollet, Ramsey, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Steele, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan and Wright. Wisconsin areas west and northwest of the Twin Cities also are under the storm advisory.

Nearby areas may get snow, but less of it.

There is a chance for rain and snow late in the week for many of the areas under the Tuesday-Wednesday winter storm advisory.

Appropriately, the storm advisory comes during Winter Hazard Awareness Week.

“Simple steps can prevent injury and provide peace of mind,” said Director Kris Eide of the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “Now is the time to be ready yourself and talk to your neighbors to see if they may need help when the weather creates challenges.”

The weather service says the biggest problems expected from the snowstorm are hazardous driving conditions.

In 2012, 17 people died and there were 5,945 crashes on snow- and ice-covered Minnesota roads.

“It pays to review winter driving skills,” State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said. “Road conditions can change very quickly. One poor decision can impact many people on the road.”

State emergency management officials suggest motorists carry a winter survival kit that includes blanket, hat, boots, gloves, flashlight, snacks, matches, a tin cup to melt snow for drinking water and a bright ribbon to tie on the vehicle’s antenna to alert authorities help is needed.

If this week’s snow becomes a problem, Commissioner Charlie Zelle of the Minnesota Department of Transportation said motorists can help his plow drivers.

“We count on motorists to do their part in helping us keep the roads as safe as they can be by giving our plows room to work,” Zelle said.

Snow plows were involved in 21 crashes last year. Zelle said such wrecks usually are caused by inattentive motorists, motorists driving too close to the plow or by driving too fast for conditions.

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