A fierce storm crippling North Dakota had far less dire effects in Minnesota on Friday, but by evening an inch or two of snow already covered the ground in west-central counties. Meanwhile, Twin Cities-area residents shivered amid flurries and a chill wind.
A winter storm warning will remain in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday in all or parts of several western Minnesota counties, including Polk, Norman, Clay, Kittson, Red Lake, Mahnomen, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail and Cass, where 4 to 8 inches of snow was expected by morning, according to the National Weather Service. Winds gusting to 50 mph could wipe out visibility on many roads.
East and south of those areas, a less urgent winter weather advisory was in effect for Roseau, Douglas, Pope and Stevens counties, with 2 to 5 inches of snow expected, according to the NWS. Winds in that area were expected to gust up to 45 mph.
In the metro area, overnight precipitation will come largely in the form of rain, with some snow showers. Saturday will bring a mix of rain and flurries, with a high of only 37, the NWS said. Saturday night will bring a low of 33 and a possibility of more rain.
By Sunday, most precipitation will have moved on, but clouds will linger, with a high of only 41. Monday — Columbus Day, or Indigenous People’s Day in Minneapolis — will be slightly warmer, with a high of 46, calmer winds and a glimpse of sunshine.
Conditions were far more dire in North Dakota, where forecasters were calling an unusually early blizzard historic. On Friday, Gov. Doug Burgum activated the state’s emergency plan after a blizzard closed major highways and had farmers and ranchers bracing for huge crop and livestock losses.
“The extraordinary intensity of this early winter storm threatens to test the limits of local response capabilities across a large portion of our state,” Burgum said of the plan that placed on standby all agency resources, including the National Guard, to respond to weather-related emergencies.
Burgum said the state would “ensure our citizens have the resources necessary to respond and recover from this crippling event.”
One to 2 feet of snow was expected to accumulate Friday in parts of North Dakota with winds gusting up to 65 mph.
Dozens of schools and hundreds of miles of interstates 29 and 94 and Hwy. 2 in North Dakota were closed Friday. The north-central and northeastern part of the state was taking the brunt of the storm, but Bismarck, in central North Dakota, had nearly a foot of snow by Friday.
“I’m expecting massive crop losses — as devastating as we’ve even seen,” said Jon Nelson, a state lawmaker who farms several hundred acres near Rugby in north-central North Dakota.
Unharvested wheat in the region probably will be a total loss, he said.
Erika Kenner, who ranches with her parents in Leeds, said she felt helpless Friday, unable to check on the family’s several hundred cows because of deep, drifting snow.
“I just hear the wind howling and think of those poor cows out there,” she said. “Cattle are tough, but this kind of weather just wears on them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.