1 storm done; 1 on the way

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As people across Freeborn County were digging out this morning from heavy snow on Monday, they were bracing for high winds and bitter cold headed this direction.

The National Weather Service extended the winter weather advisory until 6 p.m. today and issued a wind chill advisory from 9 p.m. today until noon Wednesday.

Light flurries were expected through noon Tuesday, but increasing northwest winds blowing in at up to 35 mph could cause drifting snow and reduced visibilities, especially in open areas. NWS advised that east and westbound roads could become very slick and compacted and urged motorists to allow for extra travel time.

Tuesday evening, the combination of falling temperatures and high wind speeds were expected to drive wind chill values below the 35 degrees below zero range.

Snow began to fall around Albert Lea late Sunday night and by 11 a.m. Monday, 3 inches had fallen. Snowfall totals reported in Albert Lea ranged from 6 to 8 inches, with parts of Freeborn County receiving 4 to 6 inches of snow. NWS reported 3 to 7 inches of snow had fallen through the Twin Cities by Monday night, but some areas in southwestern Minnesota received heavier amounts, including 10 inches in Springfield and a foot in Madelia.

Nearly all area schools were dismissed early on Monday, and as of press time on Tuesday, several were delayed or closed because of slick roads.

Travelers on local highways and interstates were being advised to take caution after more than 400 crashes were reported by the Minnesota State Patrol on Monday. One of those was a fatality, a head-on those was a fatality, a head-on crash on Highway 55 west of Rockford in Wright County.

On Tuesday morning, MnDOT listed Interstate 90 as having difficult driving conditions, especially between Highway 4 near Sherburn and Highway 109 near Alden, with drifting snow on the road and icy patches.

Visibilities were predicted to become less than a mile at times, creating near whiteout conditions in open areas. NWS cautioned of the area south and west of the line from Canby to Redwood Falls to Albert Lea.

Very cold temperatures could lead to frostbite or hypothermia, so people who must be outside in these conditions were being urged to wear a hat and gloves.

Also included in the advisories were Nicollet, Blue Earth, Waseca, Steele and Faribault counties, along with the cities of St. Peter, Mankato, Waseca, Owatonna and Blue Earth.

Snow and freezing rain were wreaking havoc across many parts of the country Monday and Tuesday. In Chicago, NWS warned that high winds with gusts of up to 60 mph could produce waves on Lake Michigan of up to 25 feet, leading to coastal flooding and freezing spray. Governors in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois declared emergencies because of inclement weather.