Archived Story

The region is in a blizzard watch

Published 10:33am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thursday expected to have whiteout conditions

After two snowstorms in three days, couldn’t the National Weather Service issue a nice weather warning? Or at least give Freeborn County a day off from warnings and advisories?

Nope. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch to be in effect from 6 a.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday. Those times could change as the expected storm nears.

The watch is in effect for only a portion of southern Minnesota. The counties are Freeborn, Faribault, Waseca, Steele, Rice, Dodge, Mower, Olmsted and Fillmore. A winter storm watch is in effect to the east of that area and into Wisconsin.

Several counties in Iowa also are in a blizzard watch. The region extends from the Des Moines area up to Mason City, Waterloo, Fort Dodge and Decorah. It includes Winnebago and Worth counties. The watch is for the same time span.

The possible blizzard is expected to bring heavy snow, sleet and strong winds Thursday and into the evening. Totals by Friday morning could range from 6 to 10 inches in some areas.

Northwest winds are forecast to increase to 25 to 35 mph with gusts of 40 mph Thursday afternoon through Friday morning.

Whiteout conditions are expected to make travel dangerous.

Motorists had problems getting around on Monday, after anywhere 3 to 5 inches of snow fell throughout Freeborn County, depending on where the measurements were taken. Austin reported 3 inches. Owatonna 2 inches. Waseca 4 1/2 inches. Mason City 3 inches, Wells 1 inch and Northwood 3 1/2 inches. A weather spotter in Albert Lea reported 5 inches.

A semitrailer jackknifed at milepost 10 of Interstate 35, blocking traffic around 5 p.m. Monday. The driver reported a minor injury. Several spinouts were reported Monday, too.

The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office received a report at 11:36 a.m. of a plow and a pickup that collided near the intersection of 870th Avenue and 230th Street near Oakland. No one was injured.

One person was reportedly injured after a crash near the intersection of Bridge Avenue and East Hawthorne Street at 12:53 a.m. Monday. No other information was available as of press time.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Monday issued an advisory calling for no unnecessary travel in southeastern Minnesota because of difficult driving conditions with blowing snow and reduced visibility. Blowing snow, icy conditions and reduced visibility made travel difficult through most of the region.

The National Weather Service measured 6.4 inches of snow Monday at its forecast office in Chanhassen, and reports from 4 to more than 5 inches were common from Willmar in the west to St. Cloud in central Minnesota, and Albert Lea and Mankato in the south.

Temperatures are forecast to soar to around 40 in the Twin Cities on Tuesday for the first time in a month before the weather turns cold again this weekend.