Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Waiting upon a predicted historic winter storm in Minnesota February 22, 2023

Blowing snow reduces visibility along Rice County Road 25/197th Street in January 2020. I expect similar or worse conditions in Rice County later today, overnight and into Thursday. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo January 2020)

AS I WRITE THIS MID-MORNING Wednesday, the view outside my office window is one of a landscape layered in new snow, about five inches. The light snow of earlier has stopped.

All appears calm, until I look closer. I notice snow sweeping off my neighbor’s roof. I see, too, treetops swaying, a trio of exposed squirrel nests nestled among branches. Another neighbor’s political flags extend in the wind, bannering messages I’m weary of seeing long after the 2020 election has ended. Buffeting my front steps, dried hydrangea heads wave in the rhythm of the morning wind.

For days now, we’ve been lectured by weather forecasters and officials alike not to be lured into complacency. This lull in an anticipated historic winter storm here in Minnesota is expected. Southern Minnesota braces for storm’s second punch after overnight snow. That Minnesota Public Radio headline and similar headlines have played across media outlets for days.

I lean into believing the National Weather Service predictions about this multi-day event that could rank among our top five winter storms. It’s not only about the quantity of snow, possibly topping 21 inches, but also about the wind. As a prairie native, I understand how quickly winds of even 25 mph can create white-out blizzard conditions, making travel dangerous and impossible. Winds are expected in some places to top 50 mph. Our governor has already declared a peacetime emergency.

When my husband left for work Wednesday morning, I asked him to remain weather aware, reminding him that this storm is about the wind as much as the snow. He works as an automotive machinist in a rural location, typically a 35-minute commute. Unlike me, Randy leans into believing storm predictions are more hype than reality. Sometimes he’s right. Time will tell. Regardless, I inquired whether his phone was fully-charged and whether a sleeping bag was still in the van. It was and it was. And I asked him to text when he arrived at work and when he leaves later today. He did and I expect he will. Roads this morning were worse in sheltered areas, he reported.

By noon our winter storm warning transitions into a blizzard warning in effect for 24 hours. It’s not often my county of Rice, just south of the Twin Cities metro along Interstate 35, enters blizzard status. I expect this designation in southwestern Minnesota and other primarily open land area parts of the state, but not here.

Whatever happens, we’ve been warned by the National Weather Service, Twin Cities, on their Twitter page Wednesday: There seems to be some confusion this morning because the sun has come out. Does this mean all we got is a measly 3-5” and it’s over? Nope! As we’ve talked about for days, round 2 is on the way and it will pack a punch! Expect an ADDITIONAL 10-15” by tomorrow morning.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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27 Responses to “Waiting upon a predicted historic winter storm in Minnesota”

  1. Bernadette Arlene Thomasy Says:

    Thanks for the update; hope people heed the warnings. Stay safe.

  2. Karen Adams Says:

    Hello!

    I hope you stay warm and safe during this snowstorm. I am a former Minnesotan, now living in Virginia, who discovered your delightful blog a few weeks ago when I was searching for stories about drying clothes on a clothesline. When I read your bio, I learned that you live in Faribault, a lovely town where my grandparents were from and where I have visited many times.

    Thank you for your wonderful writing — and stay safe!

    Best, Karen Adams

  3. Karen Adams Says:

    Stay safe! I live in Virginia now but I remember those big Minnesota snowstorms, especially when the wind blew across the farmlands near Faribault. Take care!

  4. 10-15 inches more😳! That is a lot of snow! Stay safely inside until it is over.

  5. Oh, Dear Audrey. 50 mph winds and 10 to 15″ of more snow? Stay safe, dear friend. ❤

  6. Valerie Says:

    It’s Thursday morning and the sun trying to shine over the mountains of snow all around. It seems the snow has almost stopped…now for the plowing and shoveling out! It will be interesting to learn how many inches we got in total.

  7. Praying you are doing well!

  8. Norma Says:

    Well, I guess, we here in California, are also experiencing winter weather. The highway from the valley into L.A. area was closed most of the day yesterday. The area around here had several inches of snow. We had rain all night, with snow flurries in some parts of the valley. I remember 25 years or so, snow that was on the ground for about 3 days. I had some grandchildren living with me at the time, and we all were so excited that we woke the kids up around 4 A.M. not realizing that the snow would last that long. It rained all night last night, and it’s still raining this morning. We are so thankful for this weather. Our Kern River, hasn’t flowed for a long time. Now, we actually have water flowing through our beautiful valley again. We must be thankful to God for the beautiful snow and rain here.

    • Norma, I did not expect to hear that your had snow in your community. I’m thankful for the moisture that brought and also for the rain that has fallen to replenish your water supply. To see the Kern River flowing again must feel joyful. Thanks for sharing the 4 am snow story. I laughed, but I understand.


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