Arctic blast descends on Rockies, Upper Midwest

Published 8:48 am Tuesday, November 11, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. — After being buried under more than a foot of snow, parts of the Rockies and Upper Midwest were getting their first icy touch of arctic air on Tuesday. And the rest of the Midwest and the East are expecting a dose later in the week, with temperatures forecast as much as 40 degrees below average.

The frigid air was pushed in by a powerful storm that hit Alaska with hurricane-force winds over the weekend.

Isn’t it still fall?

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Winter is still more than a month away, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Residents were digging out from as much as 13 inches of snow Tuesday morning in northern Wisconsin, where several school districts cancelled classes, while some Minnesotans awoke to 15 inches of fresh powder — with more snow is expected.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula also was buried under at least a foot of snow Tuesday — with another foot or two expected before the storm passes. National Weather Service meteorologist Justin Titus said roads are in “very poor condition,” with 2 to 3 inches of snow falling an hour on Tuesday morning.

Terri Sommerfeld, a clerk at Ace Hardware in Webster, Wisconsin, said the store usually sells six or seven snowblowers in a typical winter. That’s how many the store has sold in two days.

“It hasn’t been overly busy today, but the ones that are coming are buying snowblowers and shovels,” she said.

The cold after the snow

The blast of frigid weather sent temperatures tumbling in the Texas Panhandle, plunging from the 70s into the teens. Similar balmy weather in Missouri was replaced by temperatures in the 20s — dropping some 40 degrees overnight — along with a light dusting of snow.

In parts of Colorado, temperatures fell into the teens — about 20 to 30 degrees below normal — and they’re expected to remain through Thursday.

Ready. Set. Wait.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport saw the brunt of the cancellations and delays Monday, with 150 cancellations, while about 19 flights had been cancelled Tuesday out of hundreds of arriving and departing planes, according to the airport. There were no delays Tuesday morning at Sawyer International Airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Keep calm and shovel on

The snow got a mixed reception in Minneapolis, where the first inch tripled morning drive times Monday. At one point, the weather turned to sleet, and tiny pellets stung uncovered faces and hands. Crews were plowing, shoveling or brushing off sidewalks, and snowplows did several loops around city streets.

Richard Anderson, who was decorating small trees outside Seven Steakhouse, was downcast.

“As a professional holiday decorator you’d think I’d appreciate it,” he said.