(left to right) Anastasia Yang and Lai Saechao of the Edison High School Outdoor Club shoveled out one of four snow quinzee shelters as part of an event with Wilderness Inquiry and REI, at the Fort Snelling State Park on 1/11/14.

Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

Blizzard expected to cause whiteout in Dakotas, Minnesota

  • Article by: BLAKE NICHOLSON
  • Associated Press
  • January 15, 2014 - 7:36 PM

BISMARCK, N.D. — A storm sweeping in from western Canada is expected to create dangerous blizzard conditions in the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota, forecasters said Wednesday.

The storm was expected to dump only an inch or two of new snow as it passes through eastern North Dakota, northeastern South Dakota and northwestern Minnesota relatively quickly, arriving late Wednesday and leaving by late Thursday. But it will pack powerful wind gusts that could reach 65 mph, and will whip up the new snow and old to create whiteout conditions, said Dave Kellenbenz, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Forks.

"We're looking at 12-18 hours of blizzard conditions," he said. "Even though it's quick moving, it's going to produce some significant impacts."

Temperatures in the region, which have been relatively balmy over the past week — even in the 30s in some areas — are expected to drop below zero, with wind chills plunging to as cold as 30 degrees below zero. Travel in some areas likely will become impossible at times, according to the weather service, which posted blizzard warnings for those parts of the three states.

"It's going to be really nasty," said Kellenbenz.

Workers at the Coffee Cup truck stop in the northeastern South Dakota town of Summit are used to such storms. The business is a popular spot to wait out bad winter weather for truck drivers and others traveling on a stretch of Interstate 29 that is notorious for treacherous winds. The restaurant had a packed house on Tuesday when strong winds swept through and created whiteout conditions, and worker Val Nelson said she expects the same on Thursday.

Nelson said such storms are depressing, "but we live here for a reason — if we didn't like it we'd leave," she said. "We live in South Dakota. It's prone to happen."

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