- Most of Iowa won't get walloped until hours after the caucuses end
- Des Moines will probably get 6 to 9 inches of snow between Monday and Wednesday
- Blizzard conditions could snarl commutes Tuesday and make travel "nearly impossible"
The storm is expected to slam parts of the Hawkeye State late Monday, the National Weather Service said
. But most of the state won't get hit until after the crucial votes are cast.
Iowa caucus meetings for Democrats and Republicans are set to begin at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) Monday. Official tallies could be wrapped up between 10 and 11 p.m. (11 p.m. and midnight ET).
At the same time, about 3 million people in the region -- from Nebraska to Iowa to Minnesota -- will be under the gun for a blizzard watch.
The watch starts for the southwestern corner of Iowa at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. ET) Monday, CNN meteorologist Rachel Aissen said. Northwestern Iowa's blizzard watch begins at 3 a.m. Tuesday.
The state's capital, Des Moines, faces a winter storm watch at midnight Monday (1 a.m. ET Tuesday). The storm will probably dump 6 to 9 inches of snow on the city between Monday and Wednesday, Aissen said.
And the National Weather Service's Des Moines office said a large swath of the state could get 6 to 12 inches of snow.
Iowa's not alone. About 7 million people from California to Nebraska are under a winter storm warning Monday. And another 4 million people from Kansas to Michigan will face a winter storm watch Tuesday and Wednesday.
Forecasters warned that heavy snowfall could hit during Tuesday morning commutes.
"Extremely hazardous travel conditions will develop," the National Weather Service said. "Travel may become nearly impossible at times. Please reconsider any travel plans."
Earlier this month, a staffer for Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson died during a winter storm
after the van he was driving hit a patch of ice and flipped on its side near Atlantic, Iowa.