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How much snow? When will it start? What you need to know about this weekend's storm

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Harry Huie clears snow from the sidewalk in front of his house.
Harry Huie cleared snow from the sidewalk in front of his house in Rochester, Minn., during one of last month's storms. More snow is on the way this weekend.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file

Updated: 1:41 p.m. | Posted: 7:30 a.m.

By now you've probably moved past the denial stage and have accepted that it's going to snow this weekend. A lot.  

But if you're still in denial — or holding out hope that all the meteorologists have it wrong — the National Weather Service has some bad news for you. 

"There's really not much at this point" to mess up the track of the storm, said meteorologist Bill Borghoff. "It's pretty solid. The only thing of uncertainty is going to be along (Interstate) 90 across southeastern Minnesota where there could be a wintry mix of rain, sleet and maybe some freezing rain, which could cut down on some of the snow totals there. But north of that area, confidence is pretty high that we're going to see quite a bit of snow." 

And there you have it. 

From how much snow to the timing, here's what you need to know about this weekend's winter storm. 

How much snow will fall?

A wide swath of Minnesota is in line for anywhere from 8 to 11 inches of heavy, wet snow. Northern Minnesota could see anywhere from just 4 inches (yes, we've reached the point where 4 inches is considered a small snowfall) to 9 inches. 

When will the snow start falling?

The storm is expected to reach southwestern Minnesota early Saturday and spread eastward through the morning, reaching Wisconsin by early afternoon. 

In the Twin Cities, snow is expected to start falling sometime around noon. 

Borghoff said it'll be coming down quickly when the storm arrives — within the first six hours, 1 to 2 inches an hour is possible, especially across west-central and central Minnesota. 

Will it be OK on the roads?

Stock up on plenty of snacks, hot cocoa and watch everything on your Netflix list — Minnesotans, particularly those in the southern two-thirds of the state, are being urged to stay home.

"Conditions are expected to deteriorate rapidly" after the storm moves in, Borghoff said. 

Safety officials don't want a repeat of last month's winter storm when hundreds of travelers were stranded in southern Minnesota. Among the travelers stranded were crews from two trains that got stuck on the tracks in Freeborn County. During and after that storm, more than 600 motorists had to be rescued from their vehicles, including some 200 in Steele County around Owatonna and nearly 100 more in Freeborn County. 

What should I do to prepare?

Make sure your fridge is stocked since a quick grocery run will probably be out of the question Saturday into Sunday. Ahead of the storm, there's a few things you can do that might make the aftermath cleanup a little easier.

The Twin Cities National Weather Service suggests trying to clear snow away from storm drains on your street to prevent localized flooding when we eventually thaw out. That might not be an option if there's already a couple of feet piled up from previous snow events, but the weather service said any progress you can make will make a difference down the road — get it?

You'll also want to consider getting the snow already on your roof off, because it's about to get a whole lot more wet, heavy stuff on top of it. Get your hands on a snow rake and remove as much snow as you can from a safe spot on the ground. 

For ladder or roof work you'll want to call in a professional. Keeping your roof free of snow also helps prevent ice dams from forming on the outer edges or your roof.

It's important to remember that while you're clearing out snow before and after this latest event to stay warm, stay hydrated and take it slow. Don't be afraid to take a break if you're feeling tired or winded; your health comes first.

On the power front, Xcel Energy is urging customers to prepare for possible outages. The company is urging customers to brush snow off gas meters; this will help the meters operate properly and give utility crews ready access to the meters in an emergency. 

The company has increased staffing to restore power if there are storm-related outages. 

MPR News reporter Martin Moylan contributed to this report.