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Ground blizzard expected today

Published 7:56am Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another week. Another blizzard.

This time meteorologists are calling it a “ground blizzard.” It means that though snow isn’t in the forecast for today and Thursday, winds will be strong enough to blow snow across the plains to create whiteout conditions.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for several counties, including Freeborn, Faribault, Steele, Waseca and Blue Earth. The warning is in effect from 3 p.m. today to 3 a.m. Thursday.

“Strong winds will lead to blizzard conditions this afternoon and tonight,” the Chanhassen bureau of the National Weather Service states in its warming. “Difficult travel conditions expected to due drifting snow over roadways.”

Wind chill values in Albert Lea are expected to reach 26 below today, with a west southwest wind of 20 to 30 mph this afternoon and gusts as high as 45 mph. Wind chill overnight could dip as low as 33 below, with a northwest wind of 25 to 30 mph and gusts up to 45.

Expect more blowing snow for the Thursday morning commute in Albert Lea. The high is expected to be 3 below, with wind chill dipping to 33 below.

Snow is in the forecast in the days following the blizzard. There is a 70 percent chance of snow for Friday, with accumulation of about 1 to 3 inches. More snow is predicted for Saturday and Sunday.

Freeborn County has been in the transition zone for many snowstorms this winter. As a result, the snow depth in Freeborn County ranges from 10 to 39 inches, according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center.

The official measurement for Albert Lea has the snow depth at 15 inches, as of Tuesday. Austin rings in at 17 inches. Fairmont 9 inches. Owatonna 22 inches. Rochester 21 inches. Mankato 15 inches. Waseca 12 inches.