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Spring blizzard to slam the upper Midwest

Weather warning stretch from Kansas and South Dakota into Minnesota and Iowa.

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 3:43 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 5:35 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A potent, slow-moving spring storm system that's expected to persist through the weekend began raking the Plains and Midwest on Friday, bringing blizzard conditions to South Dakota and the threat of tornadoes from Texas and Louisiana north all the way to Iowa.

The huge storm, packing enough energy to cause widespread disruption, isn't unprecedented for April, said Jake Beitlich, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

"We do get pretty powerful systems coming throughout the Midwest, and on the cold side we do get snow. And this one is particularly strong. So we do have a lot of moisture with it, and a lot of energy," Beitlich said. "Over the next 24 hours cold air is going to get wrapped into this system and we're going to see a band of heavy snow develop from southwestern Minnesota through northern Wisconsin. Also we're going to have really strong winds, especially in western Minnesota."

Blizzard warnings stretched from northern Kansas across most of Nebraska and South Dakota into southwestern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa, with winter storm warnings and watches covering most of the rest of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Heavy snow already blanketed parts of western Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota by early afternoon Friday, closing major highways in South Dakota and many roads and highways in western Nebraska — including a 200-mile stretch of cross-country thoroughfare Interstate 80 from North Platte west to the Wyoming border.

A road conditions report said most roads in the Nebraska Panhandle to east of Valentine in the northern part of the state were impassable because of heavy snow cover.

The snow also led officials to shut down the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, airport Friday afternoon through Saturday night.

Snow, freezing rain and high winds were expected through Saturday night, with heavy ice accumulations in parts of Michigan through Sunday morning.

A swath of southern Minnesota including Minneapolis though northern Wisconsin was expected to get 8 to 12 inches of snow or more. Parts of northern Nebraska could get up to 18 inches, with up to 12 inches in northwestern Iowa. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph will make travel hazardous.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, issued tornado watches Friday for eastern Texas and western Louisiana, moving up through eastern Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and into Missouri and Iowa. The weather service also warned of the potential for strong thunderstorms, large hail and damaging winds for Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and eastern portions of Texas.

Forecasters said Alabama was also at risk for a weekend of severe weather, with the National Weather Service predicting storms beginning over north Alabama early Saturday will create a threat of winds up to 60 mph and tornadoes through Sunday.

The Storm Prediction Center said there's an enhanced risk of bad weather in an area that includes Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile, and that Montgomery is on the fringe of the risk area.

Severe thunderstorms also popped up to the north Friday morning in parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. Golf ball-sized hail fell Friday morning in parts of southwestern Wisconsin, covering the ground like snow in Richland Center and Gays Mills. Large hail also fell in Parker in southeastern South Dakota while pea-sized hail fell in nearby Sioux Falls.

"That that just kind of again speaks to how strong the system is, where you're going to get a lot of snow on the cold side, and severe thunderstorms in the warm part of the storm," Beitlich said.

In South Dakota, where a blizzard warning covered much of the state, authorities issued no-travel advisories for many highways and closed much of Interstate 90 in the western half of the state. Gov. Dennis Daugaard closed state government offices in 32 counties ahead the approaching blizzard. Dozens of school districts canceled classes ahead of snow accumulation expected to reach as much as 18 inches in some areas. Rapid City had already received 5.5 inches by 10 a.m.

Dangerous fire weather conditions in Oklahoma contributed to wildfires that forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes near Woodward, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) northeast of Oklahoma City. Emergency crews in western Texas were also battling wildfires amid forecasts of extreme fire danger.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42281

Reported Deaths: 1540
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13568791
Ramsey5256233
Dakota271396
Stearns252319
Anoka2422111
Nobles16886
Washington128341
Olmsted127620
Mower9832
Rice8848
Scott8814
Clay61338
Kandiyohi5931
Blue Earth5752
Wright5395
Carver4942
Todd4032
Sherburne3695
Lyon3442
Freeborn3130
Watonwan2710
Steele2471
Benton2393
St. Louis23516
Nicollet20612
Martin1755
Winona14415
Goodhue1428
Cottonwood1410
Le Sueur1321
Otter Tail1141
Crow Wing11312
Pine1130
Chisago1101
McLeod1030
Dodge970
Carlton940
Polk903
Unassigned8838
Isanti830
Murray820
Chippewa811
Waseca780
Pipestone744
Douglas730
Itasca7112
Becker660
Morrison661
Meeker641
Faribault620
Sibley582
Jackson570
Pennington540
Beltrami530
Brown462
Mille Lacs402
Wabasha390
Renville372
Fillmore360
Rock340
Swift331
Grant320
Houston320
Yellow Medicine310
Roseau280
Redwood250
Wilkin223
Koochiching211
Norman210
Cass192
Lincoln190
Big Stone170
Kanabec171
Wadena170
Aitkin160
Marshall160
Clearwater130
Mahnomen131
Pope130
Stevens110
Hubbard100
Lake90
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle50
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35313

Reported Deaths: 751
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7538185
Woodbury334644
Black Hawk251959
Buena Vista173811
Johnson14798
Dallas140931
Linn139983
Marshall110019
Scott108410
Dubuque97823
Story8726
Pottawattamie83513
Wapello71531
Muscatine69345
Crawford6813
Sioux5050
Tama48729
Webster4285
Wright3991
Louisa36713
Jasper35417
Plymouth3525
Warren3331
Cerro Gordo3171
Dickinson3063
Washington2569
Hamilton2021
Boone1721
Clay1501
Clarke1443
Allamakee1384
Clinton1381
Mahaska11917
Shelby1190
Carroll1171
Bremer1167
Poweshiek1138
Franklin1120
Pocahontas1091
Des Moines1022
Emmet970
Cedar961
Henry933
Hardin920
Cherokee851
Marion850
Floyd822
Taylor810
Guthrie784
Monona780
Benton751
Jones721
Butler702
Osceola690
Sac680
Buchanan651
Calhoun652
Iowa631
Jefferson630
Harrison620
Hancock611
Jackson610
Humboldt601
Lyon600
Fayette590
Delaware561
Madison552
Lee542
Mills530
Palo Alto530
Monroe527
Clayton503
Winneshiek500
Grundy470
Mitchell460
Winnebago440
Davis431
Union430
Kossuth420
Howard370
Lucas354
Unassigned350
Chickasaw310
Greene310
Cass300
Worth250
Ida230
Keokuk231
Appanoose223
Page220
Van Buren210
Audubon181
Adair170
Ringgold161
Montgomery152
Decatur130
Fremont110
Wayne110
Adams80
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Beautiful day today, storm chances return Tuesday
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