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A vehicle is pulled from the edge of the slough Tuesday on Ella Avenue Northwest in Willmar. Driving conditions could get treacherous with a new weather front hitting the region this week. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Blizzard watch Thursday for much of the region; temperatures to plummet

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News Willmar,Minnesota 56201 http://www.wctrib.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/37/0114/011414-slough-car-01.jpg?itok=qBsajh02
West Central Tribune
Blizzard watch Thursday for much of the region; temperatures to plummet
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR –– Another blast from an Arctic cold front is expected to bring colder-than-average temperatures, snow and high winds to west central Minnesota, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard watch for Thursday.

The watch is in effect from Thursday morning through the evening for much of west central and south central Minnesota, extending along and west of a line from Alexandria to Willmar to Blue Earth.

The combination of an inch, or less, of fluffy snow and strong northwest winds up to 55 mph may result in blizzard conditions with near zero visibilities than can make travel dangerous, according to the Weather Service.

Temperatures are expected to plummet to single digits Thursday afternoon.

The wind chill could drop to 30 below zero by late in the day.

This latest surge of cold air is a piece of the polar vortex that is breaking off and moving south into the northern Plains and Great Lakes, according to AccuWeather.com

The one consolation is that the air temperature is not expected to be as bitter cold as it was the last time the polar vortex planted itself in Minnesota, and it won’t stay as long this time.

“This next main arctic blast will not rival, nor will it be as extensive as the event last week,” said Paul Pastelok, the lead long-range forecaster with AccuWeather.com.

Even so, the air mass will be cold enough to allow temperatures to drop below zero at night from Minnesota into northern Wisconsin, which means it’s important to limit time outdoors and make sure to cover exposed skin to prevent hypothermia and frostbite, according to Pastelok.

Temperatures are expected to rebound by Sunday as this piece of the polar vortex starts to move along, but another wave of cold air will be close behind.

“The polar vortex will act like a giant pinwheel or anchor for waves of cold air and clipper storms from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast during the second half of the month,” said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.

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