WILLMAR -- The first wave of a major winter storm brought just over 4 inches of snow to the Willmar area Wednesday night. But more snow is on the way this afternoon, and the National Weather Service this morning extended its winter storm warning into Saturday.
By the time the storm is over, central and southern Minnesota could receive more than a foot of snow. The heaviest amounts, 16 to 22 inches, are expected to fall across a band stretching from south central Minnesota northeast to Duluth.
As the center of the storm system moves north, snow will become widespread again later this afternoon and especially tonight, the National Weather Service said. An additional 1 to 4 inches could fall by early evening.
Snowfall will be heavy at times tonight and into Christmas Day. The intensity will gradually decrease Friday afternoon and evening, but snow will continue to accumulate Friday night.
Blowing snow also is likely in west central and south central Minnesota tonight through Friday night.
A blizzard warning was issued this morning for far western and northwestern Minnesota, including the cities of Moorhead, Breckenridge, Fergus Falls and Elbow Lake. The blizzard warning remains in effect until noon Saturday.
The Christmas forecast for the Willmar area:
Winter storm warning in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday.
For the rest of today: Snow in the afternoon. New snow accumulation around 2 inches. No new ice accumulation. Highs 25 to 30. Northeast winds 5 to 15 mph.
Tonight: Snow. Areas of blowing and drifting snow. Snow may be heavy at times. Snow accumulation of 5 to 7 inches. Lows around 25. Northeast winds 10 to 20 mph.
Christmas Day: Breezy. Snow. Areas of blowing and drifting snow. Snow may be heavy at times. Snow accumulation of 5 to 6 inches. Highs around 30. Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph.
Friday night: Breezy. Snow. Areas of blowing and drifting snow. Snow accumulation around 2 inches. Storm total snow accumulation of 18 to 22 inches. Lows around 20. North winds 15 to 25 mph.
Saturday: Cloudy with snow likely. Snow accumulation around 1 inch. Highs around 20. North winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 70 percent.
Saturday night: Cloudy with snow likely. Snow accumulation around 1 inch. Lows 10 to 15. Chance of snow 60 percent.
Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of snow. Highs around 20.
Sunday night and Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows around 5 above. Highs around 15.