Blizzard conditions hit western Minnesota Friday morning, in the first snowstorm of the winter season. More than two feet of snow has already fallen in some areas – more on that below.
"[P]lease take this storm seriously," the National Weather Service said.
Here's a look at what's happened so far.
7:00 p.m. update
Wind picked up
The blizzard continues, making a mess of the roads and even knocking down power lines.
There have been some strong wind gusts reported throughout the state. The National Weather Service says some of the strongest were reported around Twin Cities with gusts of nearly 60 miles per hour.
The Minnesota State Patrol says one of those strong gusts took down a tree near Forest Lake. That tree fell onto a power line, knocking it down across I-35. Both directions of the interstate have been closed for a couple hours now.
It'll reopen when Xcel Energy can clear up the mess.
According to Xcel Energy, there are also power outages through the southern half of the state.
In just the Twin Cities, there are about 8,500 customers impacted. You can check Xcel's outage map here.
How are the roads?
The roads are still pretty bad.
As far as safety warnings, not a ton has changed over the past few hours.
Here's a real-time road conditions map from MnDOT/511:
There have been more crashes, though. Over the course of two hours, the State Patrol says the number of crashes went up from 239 to 340 since 10 p.m. Thursday.
More than 2 feet of snow in places
Snow continues to fall. In some areas, more than two feet of the white stuff has accumulated.
The NWS says Orr in northeastern Minnesota has 24.6 inches. Areas just northwest of Brainerd have 20 inches.
Not nearly as much snow has fallen in southeastern parts of the state, though.
The Twin Cities have barely accumulated an inch.
You can check the NWS' snowfall map here.
3 p.m. update
373 vehicle spinouts and counting
As snow and sleet fall throughout the state, the number of crashes and spinouts keep ticking upward.
At 2 p.m. the State Patrol tweeted that there have already been 373 spinouts and 239 crashes since 10 p.m. Thursday. Two of those have been fatal.
The first fatal crash happened around 4:45 a.m. on northbound I-35 in Washington County. There's not a lot of information on it yet, but the State Patrol says it involved a motorcycle.
The second fatal crash happened around 6:15 a.m. on Highway 59 in Murray County. Again, not many details have been released at this time.
Driving conditions have deteriorated significantly over the past few hours.
Here's a real-time road conditions map from MnDOT/511:
The green means road conditions are normal. Blue is where roads are partially covered in snow and the pink is where roads are completely covered. And that stripe of purple that cuts diagonally through the state is where people are advised not to travel.
Some of those purple areas, like Alexandria, have experienced whiteout conditions today.
Snowfall varies a lot throughout the state.
The National Weather Service says that Beauty Lake – in northeastern Minnesota just east of Grand Rapids – got more than 13 inches of snow over the last six hours.
The Brainerd area got just as much, according to the NWS.
About two inches have been recorded in St. Cloud and Fargo areas.
As for the Twin Cities and southern parts of the state, snow is just starting to fall. There's no accumulation yet, though.
10:30 a.m. update
At least two fatal crashes
Roads are bad in some regions. Very bad.
The State Patrol says that, from 10 p.m. Thursday night through 10 a.m. Friday morning, there have been 105 crashes.
Two of them resulted in deaths – though details on what happened or how many fatalities there are weren't available immediately. One was in Forest Lake on I35, and the other on Highway 59 in Murray County. Another 14 of the crashes resulted in injuries.
There were also 93 spin-outs/vehicles off the road.
Here's the real-time road conditions map from MnDOT/511:
The dark purple means travel is not advised in that area. Pink/purple color means a completely covered road. Blue is partially covered, and green is normal.
Snowfall so far
The main areas that are being hit are west-central Minnesota, and then the Iron Range/northern Minnesota region.
Hewitt (which is between Brainerd and Fergus Falls) had recorded about 5 inches of snow as of about 9:45 a.m., the National Weather Service said.
Meanwhile the snowfall map shows a 6.3-inch snowfall in Lake Park (west of Detroit Lakes), and 6.2 inches in Orr (north of Hibbing). And here's a look at Ely.
The National Weather Service says 6-8 inches has already fallen around the Iron Range, with more to come.
In the southwest, the heaviest snowfall could be at a rate of up to 2 inches per hour, the Weather Service in Sioux Falls said.
Meanwhile some areas – including the Twin Cities and the North Shore – have been dealing with rain, hail or sleet mix.
That'll change over to snow soon for the northeast. For the Twin Cities area, that shift from rain to flakes will come later Friday afternoon. That could make the drive home from work really frustrating.
7 a.m. update
Not everywhere in Minnesota, but the northern region and Iron Range were hit overnight when rained shifted over to flakes. And a blizzard from the west swept over the border into our state a little after 6:30 a.m. Friday.
How are roads?
Bad in some places already.
If you drive (so, most of you) keep this MnDOT page bookmarked. It's the real-time road conditions map for the state of Minnesota.
Here's the map as of Friday morning just before 7 a.m. That pink/purple color means a completely covered road. Blue is partially covered, and green is normal.
In fact, they actually said straight up avoid travel in western Minnesota because of conditions.
Here's one report of a vehicle sliding off the road already. Sgt. Jesse Grabow tweeted a few minutes later troopers in the area have gotten six reports of crashes as of 7 a.m., plus more vehicles off the road.
Chunks of northern Minnesota have already been dealing with this. Light rain turned to snow overnight, with heavier snow (and very high winds) expected throughout Friday, the National Weather Service said.
Early snowfall reports were starting to trickle in early Friday. About 2 inches was recorded in Wilton, Minnesota (right near Bemidji). Eastern South Dakota had anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 inches or so. The Weather Service says to make sure you have a winter survival kit ready to go in your car. That's warm clothes, a charged cellphone, extra water and food,and more. (Full list here.)
So what should I expect today?
Here's the mini version from the National Weather Service's summary:
"Snowfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches will fall from southwest Minnesota through northeast Minnesota."
Not very specific, we know – but basically, expect snow. Here's a closer look at the predictions statewide as of about 6:40 a.m.
As mentioned above, northern Minnesota through the Iron Range and up toward the northeast corner should expect the highest amounts after already getting hit. The Weather Service is expecting a possible 12-plus inches. Central Minnesota down through the southwestern edge of the state is a little behind at 8-12 inches, with 6-8 around that.
The heaviest snow band in the storm Friday morning ran from about Brookings, South Dakota, to Marshall, Minnesota, and was tracking east, a National Weather Service meteorologist said in an early forecast. So Alexandria for example is dealing with this:
The Twin Cities meanwhile could see 1-3 inches, though heavier amounts are more likely on the western and northern edges. Southeastern Minnesota will likely get less than an inch. (It was actually thunderstorming down around Mankato early in the morning.)
And congratulations to everyone in the very northwest corner – the snow should pretty much miss you.
Here's what the region and state look like from a warnings perspective. That orangey/red is a blizzard warning, pink is a winter storm warning, the lighter purple is a winter weather advisory.
If you want a forecast specific to your city, go here to weather.gov and click where you live. Or, punch in your city/state in the search bar.