Whiteout Christmas?

Published 7:34 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Those dreaming of a white Christmas are in luck.

The area could be blanketed by another fresh coat of snow — possibly more than one foot deep — by Friday morning.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect through 6 p.m. Christmas evening in Mower, Wabasha, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Fillmore and Houston counties.

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“There is a complex storm approaching our area that will be strengthening over the next couple of days,” National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Todd Shea said.

“There is potential for more than a foot of snowfall,” he said.

Shea said that a storm is moving east from the southwest, across Nebraska and South Dakota, producing a small amount of snowfall Monday to be followed by heavy snow Wednesday night into Thursday.

By Tuesday morning, three inches of snow had fallen in Grand Meadow, according to the National Weather Service.

A much stronger and moister storm is expected to hit the southern plains Tuesday and Wednesday.

“At times sleet could be mixed in, but Austin is on the border-line. To both the east and south of Austin, chances of sleet and rain are much higher.” he said.

However, snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain are all possibilities at this point, he said.

The heavy and mixed precipitation could cause hazardous travel and delays Wednesday through Christmas, according to the NWS watch.

Wind, drifts and slippery roads are likely in Austin, but blizzard conditions, similar to the snowstorm earlier this month, are not expected, Shea said.

Meanwhile, temperatures should hover near the 30s, according to KIMT TV.

Lows remain in the low 20s through Thursday, dipping to 15 on Christmas. Highs edge toward the 30s Tuesday and Wednesday, hitting 31 Thursday and slipping to 26 on Christmas.

“The one certain thing is that winter weather is definitely going to stick around through the week,” Shea said.

This latest storm comes just two weeks after 10 inches of snow dumped on Austin in the first major snowstorm of the season.