You call this spring?
MARSHALL – A year ago, it would have been T-shirt weather outside. But residents of southwest Minnesota spent Tuesday dealing with freezing rain and drifting snow instead. While spring snowstorms aren’t unheard of for the region, the National Weather Service is predicting this one will linger through the next couple of days.
A winter storm warning for the area is in effect until 1 p.m. Thursday. The NWS is forecasting snow accumulations of 12 to 18 inches, on top of the freezing rain, sleet and snow that already hit southwest Minnesota on Tuesday.
Schools around Lincoln and Lyon counties were closed Tuesday, and many community activities were canceled. The Minnesota Department of Transportation was also reporting difficult driving conditions on highways in the region. Ice, drifting snow and reduced visibility were affecting major roads including U.S. Highway 14, U.S. Highway 59, U.S. Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 212.
Brad Temeyer, a meteorologist with the NWS in Sioux Falls, S.D., said the snow and ice were the result of multiple waves of storms moving through the region. The system responsible for Tuesday’s precipitation was gradually moving north and becoming less intense, while another strong front was coming after it.
Temeyer said a key concern for Tuesday night was the possibility of icing. Freezing rain combined with strong winds would increase the risk for downed trees or power lines.
“Marshall sits right on the northern edge of that,” he said. Going south into Murray County, conditions could get icier.
The precipitation from the storm system should stick around through today and Thursday, Temeyer said.
“This is a pretty significant system,” Temeyer said, and it’s moving through the region more slowly than most storms. The system also has the potential to create severe weather conditions in other parts of the U.S. later on, he said.
At the local level, there is a chance for more precipitation coming this weekend, Temeyer said. Depending on temperatures, it could come in the form of rain or snow.
So far, the weather this April has had very little in common with last spring. In 2012, temperatures in the region started off near 90 degrees Fahrenheit, Temeyer said. Although things did cool off later in the month, highs were still around 50 to 70 degrees.
“It’s a vast contrast,” he said. But he added it’s not unusual to see weather fluctuations this time of year. “You do see that typically in the spring.”