UPDATE: Storm prediction further refined, Walz declares peacetime emergency

Published 8:38 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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Area placed in winter weather advisory starting this afternoon, winter storm warning starting at noon Wednesday


The National Weather Service has shifted its predictions a bit, but the overall message remains — the area needs to prepare for a storm that could deliver up to and over a foot of snow starting today.

The NWS is predicting a two-staged storm that is expected to begin mainly after 3 p.m. today. Originally placing the area in a winter storm watch, the NWS placed the area in a winter weather advisory currently in effect through to 6 a.m. Wednesday.

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This first round is expected to deliver between 5 to 8 inches of snow by the time it’s all said and done, with the main amount expected Wednesday.

Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service

Starting at noon on Wednesday, the area will be placed into a winter storm warning going through to 6 p.m. Thursday evening.

As the first band weakens, the area will experience a short break around midday, but the NWS is predicting increased northeasterly winds will increase blowing and drifting snow. This will precede the next round Wednesday afternoon, which will linger through Thursday and could deliver 8 to 12 inches of snow over areas northwest of Austin.

The NWS expects a steep cutoff south of Austin where freezing rain chances increase with a possibility of a between 1 to 3 tenths of an inch possible.

Winds are expected to gust to 30 to 40 mph.

Expect travel to be heavily impacted. The NWS is also expecting refined predictions as the system nears.

Ahead of the storm, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency, authorizing the Minnesota National Guard to provide relief services for drivers who may become stranded on roads.

“Minnesotans are no strangers to extreme weather, but this storm could break records. Our agencies are collaborating closely to make sure we’re prepared – and Minnesotans have a part to play, too. Plan ahead, drive safe, and limit travel,” Walz said.

Minnesota state agencies, including the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), and the Minnesota National Guard are closely coordinating to prepare.

“MnDOT has more than 800 snowplows and 1,600 snowplow drivers across the state,” said Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger. “Our crews are prepared and ready, and will be working tirelessly day and night to keep highways as safe for travel as possible. We urge Minnesotans to plan ahead, stay home if you can, and check 511MN.org for latest road conditions near you.”

A press release Tuesday said that the National Guard was prepared to respond quickly to rescue stranded motorists or provide other assistance, at the direction of HSEM and as requested by county officials. HSEM is also coordinating efforts to prepare for power outages and response challenges.