Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The National Weather Service says the latest forecasting models have increased confidence that southeastern Minnesota will be hit by a major winter storm. Blizzard warnings will be in effect across the entire region starting at midnight Friday and running through 6 AM Saturday.

Forecasters say heavy snow is predicted to develop late tonight, with snowfall rates of two inches an hour a possibility in some areas. That will be accompanying by strong northwest winds gusting as high as 45 miles per hour, which could produce white out conditions and force officials to shut down some major highways in the region. In advance of the storm, the Minnesota Department of Transportation issued a no travel advisory for large portions of southern Minnesota for tonight into Friday.

At this point, the National Weather Service is predicting the snowfall totals in the Rochester area will be in the 12 to 16 inch range.

The Rochester Public Schools and Catholic Schools are among those that have already canceled classes on Friday. Rochester Community and Technical College is also on the list. The City of Rochester is also declared a Snow Emergency for parking starting at midnight and running through noon on Sunday.

City of Rochester