The National Weather Service in Chanhassen says a significant winter storm is expected Friday afternoon into Saturday evening and will likely include rain, sleet, snow, strong winds, and blizzard conditions.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for Friday afternoon and Saturday for much of central and southern Minnesota.

Meteorologists say rain and thunderstorms are expected to develop late Thursday night and last through for much of the day Friday, then colder air will begin to move into central Minnesota Friday afternoon and evening, changing the rain to snow.

In addition to the heavy snow, strong winds gusting between 40 to 50 mph will bring the possibility of blizzard conditions. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 6 inches, with localized amounts up to 9 inches, and ice accumulations of one tenth to two tenths of an inch are possible.

Forecasters are warning of difficult travel conditions, that tree branches could fall, and high wind gusts could cause areas of blowing and drifting snow.