The city of Duluth, in coordination with the National Weather Service in Duluth, issued a no-travel advisory Wednesday afternoon until further notice. The advisory comes after the weather service issued a blizzard warning for Duluth. Residents are asked to avoid travel unless it is an emergency.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation closed the I-535 Blatnik Bridge for two hours due to whiteout conditions and crashes. The bridge is open again as of 7:45 p.m. MnDOT advises motorists not to travel until conditions have improved and to watch the MN-511 website for winter road conditions.

SEE ALSO: Bentleyville closed Wednesday due to weather

A blizzard warning previously posted for parts of northwestern, western and central Minnesota has been expanded to include the Twin Ports, the North Shore and the Interstate 35 corridor. The blizzard warning includes significant blowing snow, with northwest wind gusts of 35-50 miles per hour. The winds and snow was expected to slowly subside through the night for most areas.

The Duluth Transit Authority announced it would activate its emergency mainline service at 6 p.m. Wednesday due to conditions incompatible with safe travel. Limited routes will continue to run where possible. Service is anticipated to return Christmas Eve. The emergency mainline route information can be found on the DTA's website.

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The National Weather Service previously issued a winter storm warning for all of Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin where 6-12 inches of new snow could fall by the time snow tapers off early Thursday morning.

A snowplow pulls off of Commonwealth Avenue in Gary-New Duluth on Wednesday. Blowing snow at times limited visibility to mere feet. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
A snowplow pulls off of Commonwealth Avenue in Gary-New Duluth on Wednesday. Blowing snow at times limited visibility to mere feet. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

The heaviest snow was expected to reach the Twin Ports by mid-afternoon and continue into this evening, with high snowfall rates and strong winds combining to reduce visibility due to the blizzard-like conditions.

Lake-effect snow, spurred by cold north winds blowing over Lake Superior, is expected to fall across the Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula snowbelt into Thursday.

A gale warning is in effect for Lake Superior with winds to 50 knots expected to send massive waves toward the South Shore.

Temperatures in the Northland dropped from the mid-30s this morning into the upper teens by 2 p.m. and will keep falling to below zero by early Thursday, with dangerous wind chill levels to 40 below zero expected overnight. Highs on Christmas Eve are expected to reach only the single digits above zero with the low Christmas morning in the teens below zero across the Northland.

Christmas Day is expected to be partly sunny and cold, with highs in the mid-teens.

This story was updated at 6 p.m., Dec. 23 with information from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It was originally published at 11:32 a.m., Dec. 23.