Emergency crews prepare for incoming weekend storm

With a storm bearing down on Minnesota over the weekend, many people are making plans to ride out the snow and rain indoors—but not Xcel Energy, or for that matter the Department of Transportation.

A large swath of America's heartland is expected to be rocked by at least several inches of freezing rain, ice and snow, bringing with it strong winds that could reach 50 mph in Minnesota. A winter storm watch for the Twin Cities metro area is also in effect from Friday night through Saturday night.

Xcel Energy already has calls out for extra crews to stand by in case the storm knocks out electricity for their customers, not an uncommon occurrence when freezing rain and wind create ice on power lines. 

"If we do have outages, we’ll be calling on them to make sure they’re prepared," said Kelly Bloch, the Regional Vice President of distribution operations for Xcel Energy. "The biggest complication on the freezing rain could be our ability to get around town."

For the most part, authorities are advising people to stay inside, though anyone out on the roads can count on MnDOT to be working around the clock to make roads passable. Still, says MnDOT Spokesperson Kevin Gutknecht, give yourself extra time to reach your destination--and don't expect crews to be there instantly if you do experience problems.

"If the snow is coming down at a fast rate, it’s hard for us to get it off as fast as it comes down," Gutknecht said. "So this is going to be an important weekend to be very cautious as you’re traveling."