The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 16, 2014

'Blizzard' proves less than anticipated

Schools closed, but snow didn't blow

By Tim Krohn tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — For the Mankato region, Thursday’s weather didn’t live up to the blizzard warning that was issued.

After bracing for the warning that took effect at 6 a.m., residents woke up to temperatures just above freezing, causing some melting of about a half-inch of fresh snow. Temperatures slowly dropped during the day, headed for a low of around zero Thursday night. Sporadic winds reached about 25 mph during the day, causing a few drifting and visibility problems in the rural areas.

But even with strong winds Thursday afternoon and night, little snow was blowing or causing visibility problems.

Some rural schools, including Lake Crystal, St. Clair and Blue Earth, called off school while Mankato Area Public Schools — many of which were holding final exams — started on time but sent kids home around noon. Almost all other area schools that hadn’t been closed for the day also sent students home around noon.

Some businesses sent employees home early.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported road conditions Thursday afternoon and evening in south-central Minnesota as being mostly in fair condition.

Conditions were worse farther west and northwest of the Mankato area.

Brown County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jason Seidl said travel was slowed some and there were a few minor accidents.

“At times it’s decent and at times there’s whiteouts,” said Seidl about the conditions through Thursday afternoon.

Interstate 90 near Luverne in far southwestern Minnesota was closed Thursday afternoon.

In northwestern Minnesota visibility was often down to just a few feet.

Several semitrailer trucks jackknifed on I-94, which was closed for several hours. Highway 2 near East Grand Forks and Highway 200 near the North Dakota state line were closed for part of the day as winds of more than 50 mph whipped the area.

Today’s forecast is for temperatures of 5-10 degrees, with much lighter winds and a 60 percent chance of light snow in the evening.