After all, we will have a white Christmas.
A winter storm hit Minnesota on Wednesday with winds of up to 70 mph and snow that closed roads, stranded drivers and suspended flights on one of the most anticipated air travel days since the coronavirus pandemic began.
On Wednesday, snowfall began to subside, but not strong winds. This means that blown snow will continue to cover roads that may have been plowed. Travel conditions will remain dangerous in Minnesota until early Thursday.
“The crews are making progress,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation spokeswoman Anne Meyer. “In terms of road conditions, some tracks look better than others, but this is the challenge when temperatures are as cold as today, our materials like salt and brine just don’t work as well, it takes a little longer to stop. activate them, so let’s apply that and really deal with today’s slow process, while trying to get our highways in better shape. “
Impassable roads, canceled flights
Whiteout conditions and accumulated snow have led to dozens of trapped drivers and road closures across Minnesota. Numerous travel notices urged drivers to stay off the road and several highways were closed completely
Interstate 94 in an easterly direction was closed between Monticello and Rogers, west of Minneapolis, for three hours due to an accident and the pile-up of several vehicles.
Minnesota State Patrol said that by 6:00 am on Thursday, it had responded to about 435 accidents, nearly 600 vehicles off the road and nearly 40 semifinals diverted.
Governor Tim Walz on Wednesday night ordered the Minnesota National Guard to provide assistance and emergency services for drivers arrested during the storm. The Guard was activated in Renville and Martin counties, and opened its arsenals in Olivia and Fairmont to be used as a temporary shelter.
Meanwhile, aviators traveling on vacation encountered many flight cancellations or delays.
Minneapolis-St. Paul’s airport had about 300 flight cancellations on Wednesday, said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. He said many passengers with weather-impaired plans were able to rebook different flights, as most planes have empty seats.
Earlier in the day, a large group of people showed up at Hector International Airport in Fargo, ND, only to find that most flights were canceled due to high winds and poor visibility.
“Today would probably be our busiest day since COVID started or definitely just before Thanksgiving,” said Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of the Fargo Airport Authority. “Our building was very full this morning when American, Delta, United decided to cancel some flights.”
Strong winds with storm level
Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were recorded near Lake Benton, Minnesota, on Wednesday. Many Minnesota locations have reported gusts between 50 and 66 mph.
The Twin Cities National Meteorological Service noted that it will be difficult to measure the depth of the storm’s snow because of all the strong winds and blown snow. But preliminary reports show a variation of about 2 1/2 inches in the Fargo-Moorhead area to 8.7 inches in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport about 5 inches in Duluth.
Here comes the intense cold
Winds have eased somewhat due to the extreme strong winds the state saw on Wednesday, but there are still many parts of Minnesota with gusts of over 20 and 30 mph. This combination of cold and wind is putting the morning chills at minus 20 to 40 degrees on Thursday morning.
A thermal sensation alert is in effect for most of Minnesota during the morning.
The highs on Christmas Eve will be in the digits above zero.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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