The photos and videos tell the extremes of the first round of a winter storm that will continue to pound much of Minnesota into Monday evening.
There’s the boy ice-skating down shining sidewalks in the metro area on Saturday and the video of 12- to 16-foot waves crashing over the shorelines of Lake Superior on Sunday that caused street flooding in Duluth and Grand Marais.
Now comes the second bout, which is set to bring gusting winds, freezing conditions and up to a foot of snow to places along the south shore of Lake Superior. Duluth is forecast to receive 4 to 8 inches of snow, which will likely blow around on top of a layer of ice already on roads.
Travel in the area will be “dangerous to near impossible” on Monday, the National Weather Service there warned.
By Sunday, the winter storm had already created blizzard conditions in western Minnesota, eastern North Dakota and parts of South Dakota, shutting down several interstates.
In the Twin Cities area, Monday morning’s commute could be a slick one with freezing rain and icing before the precipitation turns into snow. About 4 to 6 inches are expected in the metro before the storm moves out Monday evening.
Jonathan Wolfe, a meteorologist at the NWS in Duluth, said that Sunday’s precipitation and winds were just the first round of what he called an unusually strong winter storm. This season is already one of the top five snowiest to date for the area.
“People definitely have the right to complain this year,” he said, especially in northwestern Wisconsin along Lake Superior’s south shore, where the storm could dump between 10 and 14 inches of snow.
Wind gusts topping 60 mph drove the waves over shoreline barriers Sunday morning, prompting Duluth officials to close a stretch of Harbor Drive behind Amsoil Arena due to flooding. Access to Park Point, a narrow sand spit, was also briefly closed Sunday morning to anyone who doesn’t live there. In Grand Marais, icy water flowed down Main Street.
Heavy snow, icy roads and reduced visibility in North Dakota prompted authorities to close Interstate 29 from South Dakota to the Canadian border. Interstate 94 was also closed from Bismarck to Fargo because of heavy snow and high winds. In South Dakota, Interstate 90 was closed west of Mitchell.
A respite from the rain and snow is well-timed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when activities ramp up as people welcome a new decade.
That may come as a relief for travelers who have faced winter weather complications after Thanksgiving and now Christmas.
“The storm timing has been almost perfect to impact the busiest travel times of the year,” Wolfe said.
On Saturday, hundreds of drivers felt the brunt of the slow-moving weekend storm system that pelted central Minnesota with freezing rain and caused hundreds of crashes, as well as the first shutdown of Metro Transit bus service in eight years.
All morning, authorities pleaded with people to stay off the roads, lifting the no-travel advisory only when temperatures began to rise in early afternoon, melting the ice that had turned roads and sidewalks into danger zones. From 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 470 crashes were reported on state roads, killing two people and injuring 43, according to the State Patrol. Spinouts numbered 270, with 13 jackknifed semitrailer trucks.
Elsewhere in Minnesota this week, the Weather Service has forecast anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of snow in southwestern Minnesota and about 2 to 3 inches in and around Rochester.
Staff writers Paul Walsh and Kim Hyatt contributed to this report.