By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s stretch of dry and mild weather has ended, as a sloppy storm system swirls over the state Thursday and Friday, threatening blizzard conditions in southwestern Minnesota and snow accumulations as high as 9 inches in parts of the state.

The system entered the western edge of the state late Wednesday night, bringing rare January rain to Minnesota. Early Thursday morning, rain was reported as far north as Brainerd as temperatures in the southwestern corner of the state were around 40 degrees, nearly twice as warm as the average high this time of year.

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Wind will also play a factor in this storm. A Blizzard Warning is in effect in western and southwestern Minnesota because gusts could reach 50 mph in the overnight and through Friday morning, creating the potential for blowing snow and hazardous travel conditions. Much of northern Minnesota in under a Winter Weather Advisory. Most of the snow has petered out there, but now the winds will start blowing it all around. Southeastern Minnesota is under a Winter Storm Warning since the area is expected to have the heaviest bands of snow pass through.

The Twin Cities will be clipped by those bands in the overnight through early Friday evening. The system will finally exit the state late Friday, with flurries possible into early Saturday morning.

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By Thursday afternoon, about 3 inches of heavy, wet snow had fallen over the Twin Cities metro. After a several-hour break, a wintry mix began falling in the Twin Cities late Thursday evening, with temperatures right at about freezing.

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The second round of snow will likely add another couple inches in the metro, bringing the snow total to about 6 inches or so. Southern Minnesota got about 3-4 inches in the first round, and could tack on 3-6 inches by the end of Friday. Accumulations up north will be lighter.

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Looking ahead to the weekend, the weather looks to be dry with high temperatures in the low-to-mid 20s, which is about average for this time of year. WCCO forecasters say Minnesotans may be in for a big temperature drop in about a week and a half.