Minnesotans experienced Christmas weather that was just about the opposite of those famous Currier and Ives prints of skaters on icy ponds surrounded by snow-blanketed cottages and horse-drawn sleighs.
Instead, Sunday brought icy drizzle, pelting rain, occasional thunder, gusty winds and slippery roads, with temperatures above freezing. And while Sunday's rain advisory expired, it was followed by a wind, in effect until 3 p.m. Monday.
The National Weather Service said winds will gust over 60 mph in southwestern Minnesota, while 50 mph gusts will be common over the rest of southern Minnesota into west-central Wisconsin. Gusts up to 66 mph were recorded overnight in Redwood Falls in southwestern Minnesota, and 50 mph in Bloomington in the Twin Cities area.
No travel is advised in far northwestern Minnesota.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was also seeing significant disruptions due to the windy weather. Around 11 a.m., FlightAware reported arriving aircraft were delayed about 1 hour on average. Departing aircraft are averaging delays of 44 minutes.
Sporadic snow is also expected in the Twin Cities metro Monday, which will affect road conditions and visibility, according to the National Weather Service.
Metro Transit confirmed that sidewalks and roads were quite slick throughout the metro area.
“We certainly do see rain every month of the year, just people don’t always like to see it on Christmas,” said Tom Hultquist, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.
Rain and rising temperatures were expected to make metro area roads less slippery, said meteorologist Eric Ahasic with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
North of the Twin Cities, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office reported that Interstate 94 near Collegeville was closed early Sunday morning due to crashes. It reopened by midday Sunday, but the office advised against nonessential travel in the area.
The storm gave Minnesota a diverse range of precipitation, Ahasic said, including snow in the north and northwest, freezing rain in the west central area around Alexandria, and more rain in the metro and areas to the south.
The rainy Christmas will be only the third significant Christmas Day rain event in Minnesota in recent decades.
“It doesn’t happen often,” said NWS meteorologist Tony Zaleski.
State roadways in the metro area were in good condition Sunday, but ice will present more of a driving obstacle in greater Minnesota, said Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht.
Rain will add more moisture on the snowpack, contributing to the potential of flooding this spring. Places like the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District are warning about flooding on streets in areas near the creek that winds from Lake Minnetonka to Minneapolis.
Adding to the bizarre, hazardous weather are strong winds predicted Sunday and into Monday, with gusts that could reach 40 miles per hour in the metro area, the NWS said. Sunday’s forecast of 40 degrees falls short of the record high set for Christmas Day, which is 51 degrees set in 1922, a year residents celebrated the holiday with no snow and “springlike” conditions, according to the State Climatology Office.
The heavy rain on Christmas contributed to the wettest year on record in the Twin Cities, surpassing a mark that had stood for over a century. The weather service says nearly an inch of rain Sunday boosted total precipitation for the year to 40.27 inches, breaking the old record of 40.15 inches set in 1911.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.