UNDATED (WJON News) -- We are still preparing for a major winter storm to hit Minnesota right before the Christmas holiday.

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The National Weather Service has now issued a Winter Storm Warning for the St. Cloud area which will be in effect from 6:00 a.m. Wednesday through midnight Wednesday.  That is when the bulk of the heavy snow will fall.  We're expecting total accumulations between five and nine inches.

National Weather Service
National Weather Service
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A Winter Storm Watch will go into effect from Thursday afternoon through late Friday night.  Blizzard conditions are expected, and Winds could gust as high as 45 mph. For the Wind Chill Watch, dangerously cold wind chills are possible. Wind chills as low as 40 below zero.

National Weather Service
National Weather Service
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A Wind Chill Watch will be in effect from Thursday evening through Saturday morning.

National Weather Service
National Weather Service
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Travel could be very difficult or impossible. Widespread blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches. The dangerously cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

Caleb Grunzke at NWS-Chanhassen says:

"It's going to be affecting pretty much everywhere in the central United States.... The whole state of Minnesota is going to be affected, and in fact this very cold air will be traveling down to Texas and Oklahoma."

The Weather Service is advising Minnesotans who can't leave for their holiday destinations by early Wednesday to postpone any travel until Saturday. They say driving conditions could be life-threatening and air, bus and train travel will also likely be affected.

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