Twin Cities residents hoping for a blast of snow from Thursday’s overnight storm were disappointed when they awake to no accumulation — and a tricky morning commute.
But areas to the south and east, including the cities of Rochester, Red Wing, Hastings and portions of Dakota County, could see up to 6 inches of snow, while lesser amounts will blanket the near-bare ground in the rest of the seven-county metro area, said Shawn DeVinny, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
The Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for a swath of southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, in effect from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. That area can expect 4 to 6 inches of snow, sure to bring joy to skiers, snowmobilers and other winter weather lovers who have had little snow to celebrate this season.
In the Twin Cities metro area, not so much. Only a winter weather advisory was in effect, and snowfall was expected to be 1 to 2 inches.
But even that could foul the morning commute. Overnight drizzle will turn to snow, accompanied with strong winds just as commuters begin heading to work.
“Snow and ice will form as temperatures fall rapidly tomorrow morning,” DeVinny said. “With temperatures crashing, that will be a concern on the roadway.”
In northern Minnesota, another system will drop 4 to 6 inches of snow in an area from Moorhead and Fergus Falls to International Falls on the Canadian border and east into the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota.
The storm had Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) imploring drivers to plan for a slow and safe commute. There have been at least 22 crashes so far this season involving vehicles and snowplows.
“Inattentive drivers, motorists driving too close to the plow and motorists driving too fast for conditions are the main causes of these crashes,” said Steve Lund, state maintenance engineer.
The State Patrol reminded drivers to clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals. They also should drive with lights on for best visibility.
Motorists need to respect the conditions and if conditions become poor, postpone travel, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol. Drivers should pack a winter survival kit consisting of boots, jackets, gloves, blankets, a cellphone charger, flashlight with spare batteries, bottled water and snacks, booster cables, basic tools, sand or cat litter, a red bandanna and a pencil and paper, Nielson said.
In case of an accident, drivers should stay in their vehicles to take shelter from the elements, she said.
As Thursday’s front moves through, the mercury will quickly plunge into the single digits above zero, the Weather Service said.
That will set the stage for another bitterly cold weekend as arctic air settles over the state. Highs will struggle to reach positive territory by Saturday morning, and lows Thursday through Monday will be well below zero.
The cold snap will last about a week, with a metro high of only 2 degrees above zero on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The first hint of a warmup won’t return until late next week, DeVinny said.