Blizzard Hits Minneapolis to Green Bay

December 12, 2010; 3:44 AM
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Play video For expert analysis on the blizzard, click on this video.

A full-on blizzard got under way across the Upper Midwest on Saturday, creating treacherous travel in Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Roads across almost all of south-central and southwestern Minnesota have been closed, including a large section of I-90 west that remained closed into this morning. Between Sioux City, Iowa and Omaha, Neb., I-29 has also been closed.

More than a foot of snow buried Minneapolis on Saturday.

The heaviest snow and worst conditions in terms of wind will hammer the Great Lakes Sunday.

By the time it's all said and done, snow totals could reach 12 to 18 inches in Minneapolis, Mankato and Rochester, Minn., La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Escanaba and Marquette, Mich.

A dry pocket of air over Green Bay, Wis., prevented the heavy snow reaching the city during the day Saturday, but conditions turned nasty there overnight. A few more inches could pile up Sunday.

This map, courtesy of Google and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, shows road closures throughout south-central and southwestern Minnesota and hazardous driving conditions throughout central parts of the state, including the Minneapolis area, late Saturday afternoon. Crashes, spin outs, and stalled vehicles have been reported across the Twin Cities.

This is a situation where travel is strongly not advised. As in any blizzard, the combination of heavy snow and powerful winds are creating whiteout conditions with a high risk for accidents. Vehicles have been spinning out and getting stuck in snow around the Twin Cities with several crashes already reported on Saturday.

Travel along major interstates, including I-35, I-94, I-90, I-39 and I-43, will be significantly disrupted this weekend. Several roads have even been closed in far-southern Minnesota.

Anyone left stranded in this storm could find themselves in a life-threatening situation, as temperatures are dropping to brutally cold levels, more typical of January and February than early December. If they haven't already, RealFeel® temperatures will plummet well below zero today with actual temperatures following suit tonight.

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Numerous flights were cancelled in and out of Minneapolis Saturday with the airport eventually being closed. Ripple-effect delays could impact airline passengers elsewhere across the country the rest of the weekend.

This webcam shows I-35W through Minneapolis covered with snow Saturday morning. The heavy snow and strong winds created visibilities as low as 1/8 of a mile. Whiteouts are even showing up on some webcams in the Twin Cities. (Image courtesy of Minnesota Department of Transportation)

While the heaviest snow is expected stay north of Chicago and Detroit Sunday, conditions will likely be bad enough to cause major travel disruptions both on the ground and in the air. A general 2 to 4 inches of snow is forecast for these cities with howling winds causing significant blowing and drifting with dangerously low visibility.

To view a larger image of this map and for more expert analysis on the blizzard, visit the Winter Weather Center.

Content contributed by Meteorologist Meghan Evans


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