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.

Cases: 591445

Reported Deaths: 7367
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1224421730
Ramsey51212875
Dakota45791452
Anoka41604438
Washington26834283
Stearns22196222
St. Louis17734303
Scott17244124
Wright16009139
Olmsted1322598
Sherburne1167187
Carver1047545
Clay814492
Rice8037107
Blue Earth749641
Crow Wing663189
Kandiyohi654283
Chisago596651
Otter Tail574078
Benton568297
Goodhue477272
Douglas466375
Mower464832
Winona453950
Itasca435556
McLeod422559
Isanti419664
Morrison418260
Nobles407648
Beltrami394459
Steele386715
Polk383568
Becker379751
Lyon360251
Carlton345054
Freeborn341529
Pine327822
Nicollet325643
Brown305040
Mille Lacs303253
Le Sueur290922
Todd281632
Cass271328
Meeker255740
Waseca235922
Martin230531
Roseau209019
Wabasha20513
Hubbard188341
Dodge18453
Renville179743
Redwood174037
Houston171616
Cottonwood164821
Fillmore155910
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Chippewa152138
Faribault152119
Kanabec144326
Sibley143110
Aitkin134736
Watonwan13219
Rock128119
Jackson121712
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11006
Murray10619
Swift105218
Stevens90411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86616
Koochiching82715
Wilkin81112
Lake80919
Lac qui Parle75222
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5748
Mahnomen5469
Norman5399
Unassigned48993
Kittson48622
Red Lake3957
Traverse3695
Lake of the Woods3243
Cook1620

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366827

Reported Deaths: 5937
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57596625
Linn20845335
Scott20025241
Black Hawk15803308
Woodbury15128228
Johnson1447483
Dubuque13368208
Dallas1117898
Pottawattamie11113168
Story1061248
Warren577088
Clinton555593
Cerro Gordo539789
Sioux514474
Webster512393
Marshall482975
Muscatine480799
Des Moines455766
Wapello4299122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418872
Plymouth401180
Lee375755
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291637
Carroll285752
Bremer284360
Crawford266440
Boone264534
Benton256455
Washington254150
Dickinson248343
Mahaska230351
Jackson221742
Clay215525
Kossuth215364
Delaware209541
Tama209571
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan191232
Cedar190023
Hardin185243
Fayette185041
Wright184637
Hamilton179849
Harrison179573
Clayton169456
Butler164934
Mills162322
Madison162219
Floyd160542
Cherokee158738
Lyon157941
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151551
Iowa148724
Hancock147834
Winnebago142431
Cass138554
Calhoun138413
Grundy136333
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128049
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124015
Guthrie121530
Franklin120021
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112723
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9710
Keokuk95831
Monroe95229
Ida90535
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis82924
Monona82830
Osceola78616
Greene77610
Lucas77323
Worth7478
Taylor65812
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55818
Ringgold55624
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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