Winter is back with a vengeance as blizzard hits region
WILLMAR — Winter is roaring back today with a one-two punch: a blizzard warning that remains in effect most of the day, followed by another polar vortex bringing subzero temperatures by Friday.
The National Weather Service issued the blizzard warning for most of west central Minnesota, along with central and south central portions of the state. The warning is in effect from 6 a.m. until midnight today.
Snow showers are expected to fall throughout the day, although total amounts are unlikely to be more than an inch or so, the Weather Service said.
The real culprit will be strong winds causing considerable blowing and drifting and whiteout conditions, making for difficult travel. Sustained wind speeds could reach 20 to 40 mph, with occasional gusts in excess of 50 mph.
The wind accompanies a fast-moving Arctic front crossing the state today. Temperatures in its wake will plunge back below zero. By this evening, wind chill readings could drop to the 30-below range, according to the Weather Service.
The Minnesota State Patrol is advising no unnecessary travel. Those who must be on the road are urged to pack a winter survival kit and to stay with their vehicle if conditions force them off the highway.
Today will start with a high in the mid-20s, with the mercury rapidly falling to the single digits below zero tonight. For Friday, a high of 12 degrees and a low of 8 are forecast. Patchy blowing snow will continue into the weekend until the weather clears and warms up on Sunday.
Brian Thompson, meteorologist with AccuWeather.com, said the upcoming cold snap “will not be nearly as bitter as the cold wave that smashed records in places early last week.”
Temperatures will still fall below zero but the cold will be shorter-lived and not as extreme, he said.