UPDATE: Blizzard warning issued for Thursday
WILLMAR –– Weather forecasters have upped the ante for dangerous weather to hit parts of west central Minnesota tomorrow.
The previous blizzard watch has now been upgraded to a blizzard warning that will be in effect from 3 a.m. to midnight Thursday, bringing wind chills of 30 below and “extremely dangerous” travel conditions.
The National Weather Service said the chance of blizzard conditions are likely Thursday, with winds of 40 mph and gusts in excess of 50 mph that will cause considerable blowing snow and whiteout conditions.
The blizzard warning affects Lac qui Parle, Swift, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Yellow Medicine, Renville, Douglass, Stevens, Pope, Redwood and Brown counties and affects cities including Willmar, Benson, Montevideo, Granite Falls, Olivia, Redwood Falls, Madison, Morris, Glenwood and Alexandria.
According to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, conditions will deteriorate early tomorrow morning and last through the night.
An inch or less of light snow and gusty northwest winds will make visibility will be near zero at times, especially in open areas.
Travel will be extremely dangerous.
A blizzard watch will still in effect for parts of central and southern Minnesota.
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.