Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Blizzard warning January 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:19 PM
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A view from my front window around 4:30 p.m. shows reduced visibility due to blowing snow and fresh snow falling.

A view from my front window around 4:30 p.m. shows reduced visibility due to blowing snow and fresh snow falling.

UPDATE: 5:39 P.M.

WHILE PREPARING HOMEMADE lasagna, I listened to weather news on an Owatonna radio station. Here are snippets of the latest:

Extremely dangerous travel…travel with a winter survival kit.

Life-threatening windchills.

No plowing until the winds subside.

After the lasagna went into the oven, I stepped outside, ever so briefly, to snap a few photos from my yard as fierce winds flung snow and more snow fell from the heavy skies:

Shot from my back steps looking into my backyard and toward my neighbor's yard to the south.

Shot from my back steps looking into my backyard and toward my neighbor’s yard to the south.

Standing at the end of the driveway, I aimed my lens toward the side street past my corner house.

Standing at the end of the driveway, I aimed my lens toward the side street past my corner house.

And then I turned the other direction to photography Willow Street, a main arterial street in Faribault.

And then I turned the other direction to photograph Willow Street, a main arterial street in Faribault.

WRITTEN EARLIER, AROUND 2:30 P.M.

SNUGGED UNDER A FLEECE THROW in my home office, mug of hot chocolate to the right of my desk, fingertips resting on the computer keyboard, I glance outside.

The sun blazes, for the moment, upon a landscape that appears deceptively serene here in a valley in Faribault.

But then I shift my gaze higher, toward the sky and the tips of trees that reveal the truth in bending branches. Wind, oh, powerful wind. Occasionally snow blasts around the corner of the house.

My area of southeastern Minnesota, like much of the state, is currently in a blizzard warning. 

"The photograph, taken along Minnesota Highway 30 in southwestern Minnesota, photographed in January 2010..

“The photograph was taken along Minnesota Highway 30 in southwestern Minnesota  in January 2010. This gives you some idea of the landscape and how wind can whip snow. Conditions today are much, much worse than those shown in this image.

I google Minnesota 511 to learn of difficult driving conditions, spin-outs and crashes and a jackknifed semi along the stretch of Interstate 35 stretching from Burnsville to the Iowa border.

On television, I view footage of current conditions in the Northfield area 15 miles away. Visibility is poor with blowing snow on I-35.

Across the border in North Dakota, Interstate 94 between Fargo and Bismarck has been closed. The Fargo Forum currently lists 294 severe weather related announcements.

In my native southwestern Minnesota, U.S. Highway 71 has been closed. I expect it won’t be long before snow gates are pulled across other roadways as conditions deteriorate.

I will phone my mom shortly, as I do every Sunday. I expect she will tell me church services were cancelled. Again. Too many Sundays already in recent weeks, services at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta, and in other southwestern Minnesota prairie communities, have been cancelled because of the cold and/or snow. When wind whips snow across the open landscape of that region, it is not safe to be out and about.

Tomorrow, once this blizzard ends at midnight, temps will plunge into the deep freeze again. Nearly unbearable cold.

Xcel Energy natural gas customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin are being asked to conserve energy after a pipeline rupture in Canada early Saturday morning. (Click here to read details.)

What a winter this has been already. To think, last Sunday the temp registered a balmy 40 degrees…

Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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44 Responses to “Blizzard warning”

  1. rachaelhanel Says:

    Stay safe, everyone!

  2. elmueller74 Says:

    It’s been on crazy Winter for sure. I’m in Savage and from the sounds of it, I swear the Big Bad Wolf is attempting to blow his way through my front door!

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    5 min. ago it was a total white-out (from my living room vantage point) and, now, the sun has come out, there’s blue sky, the snow has stopped falling(?) BUT the wind….oh that wind!!!!!!

  4. Bev Walker Says:

    Just talked to Andy in Owatonna so I can appreciate you observations. We had about 4 inches of fluffy snow this morning and it has been blowing off the tall pines all afternoon. Some friends of mine are leaving this week for a month in Hawaii. Must be nice!!

  5. Here’s a warm hug from a southern neighbor. We get the winds but not the snow. Some of that wet stuff would be welcome here in this area, but I shouldn’t like those conditions! Read about the pipeline break in Canada – worrisome!!! Here’s hoping conditions soon get better for you. Cheers!

  6. Jackie Says:

    Oh where do I start Audrey…. I loved the wind, the blowing snow the excitement of being out in it ,all the while hoping everyone who doesn’t enjoy it, will stay safely under their blankets dreaming of spring! Nothing like a good old blizzard in Minnesota 🙂

  7. Marilyn Says:

    I am curious about the implementation of the snow gates in your area. As far as I know, they are not used in my home state of Indiana. I certainly don’t recall them from my childhood and teen years. I assume that there are media announcements regarding their usage, etc. The photos that came up in a search look like the boom gates used here for traffic control during flooding.

    • There are no snow gates in Faribault, where I live. But I believe Owatonna 15 miles to the south has them at ramps along Interstate 35. In southwestern and northwestern Minnesota, they are prevalent along major highways and interstates. When weather warrants, the gates are drawn across the traffic lanes. You can be fined up to $1,000 for driving along a roadway that has been closed. I have never seen one closed and do not know exactly how the closure process works.

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through such extreme weather. I’m not surprised things get canceled like church services – who could get out in such weather! Your homemade lasagne sounds lovely and warming xx

  9. Sometimes modern conveniences offer a somewhat false sense of security. Always be careful and mindful when tempting the element. Mother Nature can bite pretty hard sometimes. The drive in the a.m. was wicked, very slippery and snow drifts a plenty. Safe and Warm wishes to all.

  10. Beth Ann Says:

    It was brutal out there last night. Our grill suffered but there was no way I was going out there to secure the cover again! Today it is calmer but oh so cold!!! The grill lost a side table but I guess that is minor in the big scheme of things! Gonna hunker down today still and stay inside. Brrr. Hope your hubby makes it into work safely !

  11. mcscarry Says:

    Living in the cities, the weather was really deceptive last weekend. It only seemed a little windy in town, but I had friends get stranded in the blizzard. Luckily, they found shelter in some small towns and rode out the storm.

  12. Thread crazy Says:

    You all stay warm up there. This winter is definitely one for the books. It’s going to take a lot of fuel to keep those fires going. We had sleet and ice overnight and COLD here for us in Texas.

    • Temps are warming a bit with the current temp at two degrees, which is 17 degrees warmer than yesterday around this time. Schools started two hours later here, but at least school is open.

      Ice and snow in Texas sounds not so good. Lots of Minnesotans (known here as Snowbirds) flee to Texas in the winter to escape that type of weather.

  13. It has been insane. I do have to say, though, that I loved the moment of sun peeking out during the blizzard – so cool. Ian and Katie were outside for part of the blizzard but they were very careful. They had so much fun!!! I don’t think they’ll ever forget.


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