Blizzard warning issued for areas near Lake SuperiorThe National Weather Service says 18 inches of snow is possible, with 40 mph winds.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
If you were looking to leave town for the holiday, leave now or don’t go. And if you were looking for better news, don’t look here.
The National Weather Service in Duluth has issued a blizzard warning for areas near Lake Superior starting at 6 a.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Saturday.
Areas near the lake in St. Louis, Carlton, Lake and Douglas Counties are expected to see near-whiteout conditions, with much more than a foot of snow and driving winds off the lake gusting to more than 40 mph.
Winter storm or blizzard warnings are posted for the entire state of Minnesota, much of western Wisconsin, Iowa, the eastern Dakotas, parts of Nebraska and Kansas and eastern Colorado.
Forecasters are saying the monster winter storm blasting seven states and bearing down on the Northland for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is showing eerily similar characteristics to the Halloween blizzard of 1991.
That’s what National Weather Service meteorologists were saying this afternoon as the storm was expected to enter Minnesota tonight.
By the time the storm exits the region on Saturday, snowfall totals across Minnesota could range from one to two feet, and blowing and drifting Thursday and on Christmas could make travel difficult, if not impossible, in some areas.
Freezing rain could further complicate travel, especially in Wisconsin and Iowa.
The storm probably won’t touch the record 37 inches Duluth received in the three-day storm in 1991. But the whiteout Christmas of 2009 could be the biggest dump across most of Minnesota in at least 18 years.
National Weather Service forecasters in Sioux Falls, S.D., are calling it the storm of the quarter-century and life-threatening, while meteorologists in the Twin Cities say record storm snowfall totals are possible in some areas of the state.
“This storm is reminiscent of the infamous Halloween Blizzard of 1991,” the forecasters noted in a storm report today, noting more than two feet of snow fell across central and Northeast Minnesota in 1991 while freezing rain plagued Wisconsin — much the same as today’s forecast. “The extended duration of the anticipated snowfall with the impending system, along with the impressive moisture [from the Gulf of Mexico] continues to support one- to nearly two-foot snowfall accumulations by the time the heavier snow winds down on Friday night.”
Hundreds of state, county and municipal plows are ready to roll, but experts warned that they may not be able to keep up with heavy snow rates to keep roads safely clear of snow and ice buildup. They also asked for patience and safety near plows.
Even if the storm forces airlines to cancel flights and stall passengers, crews at Duluth International Airport will use their 18 pieces of snow-removing equipment to fight the storm to keep at least one runway usable for the 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard. The wing’s F-16s always are on alert if needed for national defense.
“We run 24/7 no matter how bad it gets,” Brian Grefe, operations director at the airport, said. “We have to keep it open for the Air Guard.”