Minnesotans stocked up and settled in Friday night as a dangerous April snowstorm announced its presence, pelting much of southern and central Minnesota with rain and hail that turned to sleet and snow overnight.
Saturday’s forecast — 10 or more inches of snow for the metro and up to 22 inches in western Minnesota — led to a rash of event cancellations. Friday’s Twins game at Target Field was called off, and it seemed likely Saturday’s would be, too. Saturday’s March for Science and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s State of Our City Summit also were canceled. And ACT tests planned in 52 school districts, including many in the metro area, were postponed. (More information, including how to reschedule, was posted on the ACT website.)
A blizzard warning was in effect for southwestern Minnesota, including the cities of Morris, Willmar, Marshall and Worthington. A winter storm warning covered most of the state’s southeast, with the Twin Cities squarely at its heart. The storm-warning area also included St. Cloud, Mankato and Albert Lea and the Wisconsin cities of Rice Lake and Eau Claire.
In the metro area, 1 to 3 inches of snow fell overnight, with 3 to 5 more inches Saturday and 3 to 7 more overnight Saturday — a total of 7 to 15 inches of snow across the metro by the time it’s all over Sunday.
Don’t be fooled when you wake up Saturday in the Twin Cities with just a dusting of snow on your lawn. The main show is expected Saturday afternoon into evening, said Eric Ahasic, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
“You’re gonna see on-and-off rain to snow showers Friday night into Saturday,” Ahasic said. “We don’t want people to wake up and think, ‘Oh no, it’s over, it’s busted, no snow at all.’ It’s really going to pick up into the afternoon on Saturday.”
Hazardous conditions will be typical on roads across the southern half of Minnesota. Leaders of the state departments of Public Safety and Transportation and the State Patrol held a news conference Friday imploring would-be motorists to check MnDOT’s 511 map for current road conditions.
By late Friday evening, many roads in western and central Minnesota were already ice- or snow-covered, while sleet, hail and rain prevailed to the east and south, including the Twin Cities.
Coating of hail
It wasn’t snow that turned the ground white in Comfrey, Minn., on Friday morning, but rather pea-size hail. Dime-size hail covered the ground in places such as Sleepy Eye, St. Peter and New Ulm. Earlier, strong winds gusting at more than 50 miles per hour toppled power lines along Interstate 90 near Magnolia, Minn., and along Hwy. 75 in Rock County, in the state’s southwestern corner.
The damaged power lines in Rock County left 1,700 households without power, authorities said Friday. “The storm hit the area at around 9 a.m., resulting in a power shutdown in the southern half of the county,” said Sheriff Evan Verbrugge.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Mark Dayton issued an emergency executive order authorizing National Guard assistance and emergency relief services to stranded motorists in Rock County, including use of the Luverne Armory as a shelter.
“With road conditions expected to worsen, it is likely that additional Minnesota counties may require the assistance of the Minnesota National Guard,” the governor’s office said in a news release.
Floods were a worry in some areas. Precipitation falling at an inch or more an hour prompted the Weather Service to issue a flood warning for residents living near the Cottonwood River at New Ulm. The river is expected to reach 12.8 feet by early Monday afternoon. Flood stage is 11 feet.
Ahasic said it is possible that some April snow records will be broken.
A storm on April 14, 1983 — 35 years ago — dropped 13.6 inches of snow. That month was also the snowiest ever, with 21.8 total inches in the Twin Cities, Ahasic said.
“It’s in the realm of possibilities, but I wouldn’t call it likely,” he said. “We right now are 11.5 inches short of that total number, [but] we could get a foot of snow in the Twin Cities and we would set a total record thanks to our snowstorm 10 days ago and this weekend’s.”
As for spring, it’s nowhere on the immediate horizon, forecasters said. Chilly conditions are likely to continue for the next several days.
Staff writers Emma Nelson and Gulam Jeelani contributed to this report.