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Dangerous winter weather as Arctic front delivers blizzard, plummeting temps to Minnesota

Nasty winter weather will impact the entire state.
A semi that went off the road in blizzard conditions in northwest Minnesota. 

A semi that went off the road in blizzard conditions in northwest Minnesota. 

It's going to be a nasty outside in Minnesota Wednesday as a strong cold front darts across the state, delivering ferocious winds that'll cause whiteout conditions in western Minnesota before opening the door to an Arctic blast of frigid air that will see wind-chill values dive way below zero. 

Travel conditions are already awful in northwest Minnesota – nearly impossible in eastern North Dakota – and they'll continue to worsen in more areas as a powerful Arctic front speeds south. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has issued no-travel advisories in northwest Minnesota, even shutting down Hwy. 2 southeast of Grand Forks. 

As of 7:30 a.m., west-central Minnesota was beginning to get hammered by the strong winds and free-falling temperatures. Blowing snow will continue to be a problem through the day as a blizzard warning is in effect until 6 p.m. 

Blizzard warnings and wind chill warnings stripe that western half of the state, while areas east of the warnings, including the Twin Cities metro area, are in a winter weather advisory and wind chill advisory. 

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What to expect in the blizzard warning: 

  • Whiteout conditions
  • Blowing snow, drifting snow
  • Light snow falling

What to expect in the winter weather advisory: 

  • Light falling snow
  • Blowing snow
  • Possible near-blizzard conditions at times
  • Potential for flash-freezing roads and surfaces as temps plummet
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Here's how the National Weather Service is describing the day's weather. 

"Confidence remains high based on upstream observations that blizzard conditions will develop this morning and afternoon across portions of west central and southwest Minnesota, mainly west of a Morris to Redwood Falls to St. James line. East of the blizzard warning, winds will be lighter and visibilities are not expected to drop to blizzard criteria, but areas of blowing snow and periods of near- blizzard conditions remain possible possible during a few hours of light snow later this morning and afternoon.

"Plummeting temperatures this afternoon and evening may lead to flash freezing of this light snow on roadways and surfaces, with impacts to the evening commute expected.

"In addition to the blizzard conditions, temperatures will drop off sharply behind the Arctic front. Wind chill values will drop to 25 to 30 degrees below zero by this afternoon in west central Minnesota, with wind chills of 35 to 40 degrees below zero likely by the evening. These dangerous wind chills will continue into mid- morning Thursday. In eastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin, wind chills will drop to between 25 and 35 degrees below zero late Wednesday night through Thursday morning."

Blowing snow will be worse in northwest, west-central and southwest Minnesota, but dangerous wind chills will impact everyone. 

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It'll feel as cold as -20F to -30F in the Twin Cities and even colder in greater Minnesota. The frigid conditions will last through Friday before a weekend warmup.  

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Follow MnDOT's 511 page for the latest road conditions

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