Albert Lea area in blizzard watch

Published 9:54 am Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cold front could bring 50 mph northwest gusts

Next up: a blizzard.

Classes at many schools were delayed or canceled today as the Albert Lea area suffered strong winds and bitter cold temperatures. A wind chill warning was in effect until 9 a.m. today. The wind speed at 7:15 a.m. today was 15 mph with gusts up to 25. The air temperature was 8 degrees below. However, the wind chill value was 30 degrees below.

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There’s more than cold on deck. The National Weather Service bureau in Chanhassen issued a blizzard watch for southwest and south central Minnesota for Thursday afternoon and night.

“Another cold front will drop southeast Thursday,” the watch reads. “Strong northwest winds behind it will have the potential to gust as high as 50 mph Thursday afternoon and evening. A relatively fresh snow pack will be prone to blow around, especially at these wind speeds.”

The weather service says rural areas could face white-out conditions. Visibility in cities should be much better.

“Motorists will likely experience significant reductions in visibility quickly outside of any city limits,” it states.

The sustained wind speed is forecast to be 25 to 30 mph out of the northwest. The watch includes Albert Lea and the cities of Gaylord, New Ulm, St. Peter, Le Sueur, St. James, Mankato, Waseca, Owatonna, Fairmont and Blue Earth.

Expect the National Weather Service to upgrade the blizzard watch to a blizzard warning or downgrade it to a winter storm warning or a winter weather advisory as the forecast solidifies in the next 24 hours.

Albert Lea, United South Central and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva started two hours late today. Alden-Conger, Glenville-Emmons, Northwood-Kensett and Lake Mills canceled.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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