Blizzard-like conditions sweeping areas of Minnesota

  • Article by: Susan Hogan , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 16, 2014 - 7:21 AM

As light snow fell across the Twin Cities early Thursday, dangerous winds and heavy snow were sweeping into northwestern Minnesota.   The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported at least two highways shut down by 3 a.m. because of poor visibility.   Among them were U.S. Highway 2 from near East Grand Forks to Crookston, and Minn. Highway 200 between the North Dakota state line and U.S. 75 near Halstad.   "Advising no unnecessary travel in" northwestern and west central Minnesota," State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow tweeted around 5 a.m. A few minutes before that he said that the Patrol was handling vehicle-off-the-road incidents at Interstate Hwy. 94 mile posts 5, 10, 35, 39, 40, 41 and 49 on the stretch between Moorhead and Fergus Falls.   The National Weather Service issued several blizzard warnings leading up to the storm. Motorists were told of possible whiteout conditions created by heavy wind gusts and blowing snow.   Shortly after 3 a.m., two Kennedy, Minn., firefighters rescued a motorist who became stranded on Highway 11 after running off the road and then running out of gas, according to Tim Nordine, a jailer at the Kittson County Sheriff’s Department.   The motorist called for help shortly after midnight, but road conditions made it difficult to reach him. Nordine said the man was trying to get home to Warroad from Dickinson, N.D., where he’d worked in oil production.   “People had to risk their lives to go out to get him,” Nordine said. “I can’t believe he was even on the road.”   Most drivers in the Crookston area appeared to be heeding the warnings, the official said, though he wasn't surprised that a few did not.   “The last big storm we had 50 people stranded,” he said. "People disobey and drive around the flashing lights and signs."   By 2 a.m. Thursday, snow was falling and heavy winds were blowing across northwestern Minnesota cities, including Hallock, Roseau and Thief River Falls. The Iron Range as well as north central and west central Minnesota also saw light snow.   Temperatures in the Twin Cities and the west central cities of Willmar, Elbow Lake and Morris remained in the 30s overnight, but hovered in the teens in much of northern Minnesota.   But the warmer weather won’t last. Instead, the Twin Cities will see temperatures drop throughout the day to an overnight low near zero. The sun may shine on Friday, but the high is only expected to reach the low teens.  

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tomstromieJan. 16, 14 7:16 AM

My wife just called on her drive to work. She is near Winsted and can barely see the road. When I left our home near Waconia an hour ago the weather was great. No wind and mid-30s. It can change really fast.

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elwood76Jan. 16, 14 7:54 AM

Another boring day, but very thankful to be able to stay in with dawg. Thankful for heat and electricity. Have back-up gen if needed. Everyone gets to celebrate 1/2 of January in rear view mirror already and days are getting longer, temps will soon start their average upswing. January and March are the only two months of year I wish to see in rear view mirror. It's the time of year when "The birth of hope" comes upon MN's, may not feel like it today, but soon...

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swmnguyJan. 16, 14 8:20 AM

That stretch of 94 between Fergus and Moorhead is just terrible. I think it lines up exactly wrong with the most common wind direction? I don't know what it is, but in bad winter weather you can make it from Grand Forks to Fargo on 29 (not that it's easy or safe), and once you get closer to Alexandria on 94 you're usually OK, but that stretch east of Fargo can get really bad, and when it looks like it's clear and you get back up to freeway speed, WHAM! and the cars around you start going sideways and you're in serious trouble.

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elwood76Jan. 16, 1411:19 AM

Swimnguy, interesting comment on highways up there. They sure get clobbered with winds, snow and also the joy of a river dumb enough to run NORTH into frozen tundra and backup all over the place during most spring melts. We feel for them. The winds of the open prairie down south here are bad enough. I hope to retire and split live, 8 mos. per year in woods on edge of Duluth and 4 mos. anywhere warm, perhaps FL or AZ. Avoid the seasonal extremes. Can't take the heat anymore. MN winter isn't so bad then.

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