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Driving conditions dangerous in Albert Lea area

Published 7:23am Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Because of blowing snow, drivers reported low visibility on rural highways this morning, causing white-knuckle driving conditions as they also face patches of ice. Travel is not advised.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation listed the Albert Lea area as having hazardous driving conditions. In fact, the MnDOT 511 map showed the Albert Lea area as having the worst road conditions in the state.

Commuters this morning faced 20 to 25 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph. The air temperature at 7 a.m. was 25 degrees but the wind chill was 10 degrees. The Albert Lea received about an inch of snow overnight. The forecast calls for another inch today. St. Cloud and Detroit Lakes received nearly 3 inches and La Crosse, Wis., had 2 1/2. The Twin Cities reported 1 1/2.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning, in effect until 6 p.m. today for much of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and parts of the Dakotas and Michigan. In Minnesota, the storm stretches from Fergus Falls and Morris to the Twin Cities and Rochester. Northern Minnesota places such as Brainerd and Duluth are in a hazardous weather outlook, a less severe notice. Marshall and Worthington also are excepted from the warning, facing only a wind advisory.

MnDOT reported a jackknifed semitrailer on Interstate 35 between the Geneva and Ellendale exits. It also reported a vehicle spun out on U.S. Highway 218 north of Austin, a vehicle spun out on Interstate 90 near Alden and a vehicle spun out on I-35 near Geneva.

The National Weather Service said wind chill values tonight could dip as low as 14 below, with the air temperature at 2 above. The forecast calls for a blustery night, with a northwest wind of 15 to 20 mph and gusts up to 35 mph.

Expect more snow Wednesday after 3 p.m. It could turn to freezing rain after 4 p.m., the National Weather Service forecast says. The high Wednesday is expected to be 19 degrees, but the temperature is expected to rise overnight to 26 by 5 a.m. Thursday. Even then, more blowing snow is expected Thursday, with a west northwest wind of 25 to 30 mph and gusts up to 40 mph., along with a half inch of new snow. The winds are expected to continue into Friday, when the air temperature is likely to drop to 10 degrees.