Shaping up for a snowy holiday week in SW Minn.
Winter storm warning for area counties starts at 3 p.m.
MARSHALL — With several inches of snow in the forecast tonight, and more possible later in the week, it looks like Thanksgiving travel could be difficult across southern Minnesota.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning, with 6 to 9 inches of snow and high wind gusts expected in the area.
In the Marshall area, the storm warning will impact Lyon, Lincoln, Murray, Cottonwood, Nobles and Jackson counties. The warning will go into effect for those counties at 3 p.m. today, and last until noon Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.
“It will really start kicking up more in the mid- to late evening,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Murray. Along with the snow, wind gusts at speeds as high as 40 miles per hour are forecast in southwest Minnesota. “Winds are expected to pick up on Tuesday afternoon.”
The NWS said travel could be very difficult, with blowing snow cutting down visibility.
On Monday, Tim McCoy, maintenance superintendent for District 8 of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said two shifts of MnDOT snowplow crews were ready to go to work when the snow comes. But at the same time, he urged motorists to be careful in hazardous conditions.
McCoy said MnDOT has been prepared for snow and ice season since mid-October. Winter storms in the early part of the season are easier for snowplow crews to work with, because roadside ditches aren’t already filled with snow, McCoy said.
“The downside is, we’ve got to re-educate drivers,” on winter driving, he said. Slowing down and avoiding travel in winter storm conditions can help motorists stay safe. But McCoy said it’s also crucial to turn on your vehicle’s headlights so plow drivers and other motorists can see you.
“Do not trust the automatic lights,” McCoy said — turn the headlights on manually.
The snowstorm moving into the region today is only the first one on the forecast for this week.
“Unfortunately, it looks like we could see a little more precipitation,” on Thursday, with around an inch of snow, Murray said. While there are still a lot of uncertainties, Murray said there could also be mixed precipitation this weekend. Murray said area residents and travelers should keep an eye out for weather updates.
Murray said a snowstorm like Tuesday’s isn’t that unusual for November in this region.
“Often, we receive some of our biggest snowfalls at the beginning of the season and at the end of the season,” Murray said. There are changing temperatures at those parts of the snow season, and there also tends to be more moisture in the air. Those conditions help create precipitation like snow or rain, he said.