Here comes the snow, the wind, and the blizzard conditions

The blowing and drifting "will be a tremendous problem"

WCCO Radio Newsroom
January 17, 2020 - 5:22 am

Friday, most of central and northern Minnesota, along with western Wisconsin, is under a Winter Storm Warning. A Winter Storm Warning means snow is imminent, and the models are in good agreement: a 6-10 inch pile of powder is likely, with a foot for many communities by Saturday evening.  The snow is expected to start around noon in the Twin Cities as it moves up from the southwest.

We've been hearing all week about this latest snowstorm that has the Twin Cities in its crosshairs.  Totals have been in the 6-10 inch range most of the week, and there were rumblings of up to a foot or more of powder.  There still could be areas with that much snow, but 6-8 is looking more likely after the National Weather Service dialed back amounts just slightly last night. 

However, that will not change the issues this snow we cause, because of one major culprit:  wind. 

Snow Map
(Courtesy of Praedictix)

Starting Friday night, the winds are expected to pick up significantly, which will basically cause a ground blizzard in the open areas, even close to the metro area.  WCCO's Mike Lynch says, "The blowing and drifting snow will be a tremendous problem."

WCCO's Paul Douglas says, "The strongest winds will move across the Dakotas as we head through Friday Night into Saturday, with the strongest winds in Minnesota expected Saturday. Numerous wind gusts of at least 40 mph can be expected, with peak wind gusts of 50+ possible in some locations. These winds will lead to blowing snow and reduced visibility where snow does fall. The potential of blizzard conditions exists across portions of the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota, especially on Saturday."

Saturday Peak winds
(Courtesy of Praedictix)

The Twin Cities National Weather Service says near the Twin Cities, you should expect the heaviest snow from Friday afternoon into Friday evening.  It will taper off Friday night into Saturday morning, with some slight chance of freezing drizzle, especially south towards the Iowa border. 

But it's really the wind that is going to be the biggest issue with travel.  The Minnesota Department of Transportation has crews at the ready. 

Despite the prep by MNDOT, they are still advising that people stay home if possible.  The National Weather Service is warning that travel in open areas will be dangerous Friday night and through at least midday Saturday. 

As for those of you flying out of MSP, WCCO Radio reported Friday morning that most airlines are allowing you to adjust your flights without any fees due to the forecast.  It's recommended you check with your specific airline on flight status all weekend with significant weather issues not just here, but across most of the Midwest. 

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