Winter tightens hold on region

Storm brings snow, wind, cold to Valley in season’s final days

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A motorist passes under a banner above Main Street advertising the upcoming Stillwater Home and Garden Show this morning. The St. Croix Valley is under a winter storm warning until 1 a.m. Tuesday as a late-season storm brought snow followed by strong winds and falling temperatures. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

A late-winter storm greeted students returning to school from spring break and morning commuters with snow this morning and promised another rough commute this evening with cold, wind and blowing snow.

The eastern counties in the metropolitan area remain under a National Weather Service winter storm warning until 1 a.m. Tuesday while the extreme west metro and central and western Minnesota are under a blizzard warning until 1 a.m. Tuesday.

NWS Meteorologist Dan Luna said snow was expected to gradually end across the region this morning, but a cold front would bring west winds of 25 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph later today and tonight.

“The snow is just a small part of the overall picture,” he said. “There’s a possibility of blizzard conditions in the west and central part of the state.”

An NWS statement said wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph have been reported in the Dakotas from this latest storm and those gusty winds are forecast to spread over Minnesota today and early tonight.

“These strong winds will interact with the new snow and cause whiteout conditions south of Interstate 94 and west of Interstate 3. Blowing snow will also occur across the remaining parts of the region, but slightly lighter winds and more trees should preclude blizzard conditions over far eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The blowing and drifting snow will make the Monday evening commute difficult in these areas,” said the NWS statement.

Along with snow and wind, Luna said the cold front will drop temperatures will below normal for mid-March, with highs Tuesday and Wednesday in the upper teens to near 20 and lows falling below zero.

“We probably won’t see temperatures up to the freezing mark until Saturday,” he said. “We will see some below-zero weather Tuesday and Wednesday. It won’t be very nice.”

The outlook for the rest of the week calls for a gradual warm-up with highs of 22 Thursday, 30 Friday and 34 Saturday and Sunday. Lows during that period will rise from the single digits to near 20 Saturday.

With a low near 0 forecast to greet the first day of spring at 6:02 a.m. CDT Wednesday, Luna said it is unlikely the Valley will see spring-like temperatures the rest of March.

“I don’t think we’re going to see normal temperatures here for the next 10 days,” he said, adding that by March 31, the average high in the metro area is 49.
“I don’t think we’re going to see 49 until April,” Luna said.

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