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Winter storm warning for Minneapolis: Record snowfall forecast for northern US

Minnesota and nearby states are braced for a spell of heavy snow that will force road closures and flight cancellations.

Record snowfall forecast for Minneapolis
Erin Woodiel / Argus Leadervia REUTERS

Northern parts of the United States have been warned to brace for a historic winter storm that will dump snow on the Upper Midwest in the coming days. Minneapolis residents have been told to expect the heaviest bout of snowfall ever recorded in February, with locals advised to avoid all but necessary travel.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared that a snow emergency would be in affect from 4pm on 22 February and ordered residents to move vehicles off snow emergency routes to allow road-clearing teams to operate.

We are bracing for what is likely to be one of the largest snowstorms in Minnesota history,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “We expect it to have major impacts across the Twin Cities on every aspect of life, every aspect of city operations, for the rest of this week.”

What is the snowfall record for Minneapolis?

Northern parts of the US are no stranger to heavy snow at this time of year but the snowfall forecast in the coming days could break regional records. The biggest snow event on record in the Twin Cities was a massive 28.4 inches (72cm) that fell between 31 October and 3 November 1991.

The second heaviest snowfall came between 29 November and 1 December 1985, which saw 21.1 inches (53.6cm) land.

What can residents expect this time out? The National Weather Service forecast that more than 20 inches (50.8cm) will pile up in the worst-affected areas, likely to be in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Even if the snowfall does not quite reach the all-time record, it seems very likely that it will top the heaviest snowfall previously seen in February.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz said: “There is a high probability that Minneapolis will pick up 18 inches of snow or more from the storm… The February record of 13.8 inches of snow from a single storm is likely to be smashed.”

Roads and airports to be closed in Minneapolis

With heavy snow expected to fall there will be widespread disruption to travel that could last for weeks if the cold temperatures persist. Forecasters are warning that Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport will likely be forced to close, or at least suffer major fight delays and cancellations.

Key highways are also expected to close for a period due to the snow. AccuWeather forecasts that interstates 29, 35, 90 and 94 could all face closures in the coming days. In such treacherous conditions officials are calling on people to take all possible precautions and to limit their travel as much as possible.

“From about the Minneapolis metro area to parts of the Dakotas, blizzard conditions are in store with dangerous travel due to strong winds, heavy blowing and drifting snow,” warned Benz. “There is the risk of becoming stranded with a full-blown blizzard in open areas.”


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