Upper Midwest gets taste of winter
PIERRE, S.D. — A blast of wintry weather blew into parts of the Rockies and Upper Midwest on Monday, bringing a foot of snow in some areas, along with plunging temperatures. The cold weather is expected to eventually blanket the central U.S. from the Rockies to the Great Lakes region.
The frigid air was pushed in by a powerful storm that hit Alaska with hurricane-force winds during the weekend and threatened to bury several states in snow and send temperatures as much as 40 degrees below average. A look at the storm and its effects: By Monday afternoon, areas of northwest Montana got 16 inches of snow; parts of North Dakota received as much as 8 inches; a community in central Minnesota had more than 16 inches; northwest Wisconsin communities such as Webster reported 11 inches; and parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula got 9 inches, with as much as 2 feet expected by the time the storm ends.
Terri Sommerfeld, a clerk at the Webster Ace Hardware, said the store usually sells six or seven snow blowers in a typical winter. That’s how many it’s sold in just two days.
“It hasn’t been overly busy today, but the ones that are coming are buying snow blowers and shovels,” she said.
Winter is still more than a month away, but it may not feel like it. The cold air coming with the snow will be around for a while, said Joe Calderone, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service.
Snow was welcome in northern Wyoming, where firefighters were battling to contain a late wildfire.
Firefighters struggled with the blaze west of Buffalo, and by Sunday evening, it had burned almost 2 square miles. Then the arctic front arrived, with snow and temperatures plunging from the 60s on Sunday to single digits by Monday morning.
“That’s the best fire control you can have is Mother Nature,” said John Garman, a firefighter with Johnson County.
Elsewhere, the weather had the usual effects. In Minnesota, a semitrailer carrying a load of turkeys to a processing plant slipped off Interstate 94 and overturned. In eastern Wisconsin, snow-covered roads were blamed for a school bus crash that sent the driver and an aide to a hospital. No students were hurt, WBAY-TV reported.
The storm stirred anxiety for some farmers in Minnesota and South Dakota whose corn crop had not yet been harvested. The corn can withstand the cold, but deep snow may delay farmers getting it out of fields.
The snow got a mixed reception in Minneapolis, where the first inch tripled morning drive times. At one point, the weather turned to sleet, and tiny pellets stung uncovered faces and hands. Crews were busy plowing, shoveling or brushing off sidewalks, and snowplows did several loops around city streets.
The wintry blast stirred fears of a repeat of last year’s bitter season, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doesn’t expect it. Federal forecasters have predicted this winter will be fairly average.
In Chicago, some people were savoring breezy but mild weather near 60 before freezing temperatures arrive Wednesday.