Snow buries parts of Rockies, Upper Midwest
Pierre, S.D. — Residents across the Rockies and Upper Midwest dug out from under a foot or more of snow on Tuesday, after waking up to frigid temperatures that plunged as much as 50 degrees overnight. The rest of the Midwest and the East are expecting a dose of the icy weather later this week thanks to a powerful storm that hit Alaska with hurricane-force winds over the weekend.
A look at the storm and its effects:
Snow, snow, and more snow
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was buried under more than 14 inches of snow — with at least another foot expected before the storm moves out Wednesday. As much as 13 inches of snow fell in northern Wisconsin, while some Minnesotans awoke to 15 inches of fresh powder, with more snow expected.
The weather prompted school closures across the region, including at Northern Michigan University. Multimedia journalism student Mikenzie Frost said she was headed out the door to figure skating practice early Tuesday when she got a text from the school saying classes were canceled.
So, she shifted plans: “Going to buy a shovel because we don’t have one,” Frost said. “We’re probably the only people in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) that don’t have one.”
The cold after the snow
The blast of frigid air crawled all the way to the Texas Panhandle, where temperatures tumbled overnight from the 70s into the teens. In Oklahoma City, where Monday’s high was 80 degrees, the low Tuesday morning was 30 degrees — a 50-degree drop — while similar balmy weather in Missouri was replaced by temperatures in the 20s, along with a light dusting of snow.
The region’s coldest temperatures hit the Dakotas, where single-digit temperatures — already about 30 degrees below normal — came with frigid wind chills dipped into the negative 20s in Dickinson, North Dakota.
But some local businesses don’t mind. Action Mechanical Inc. has been far busier the past two days in its heating and ventilating department in Rapid City, South Dakota.
“Bang, we get this arctic blast, and it just opens the floodgates,” said John Hammond Jr., a department head at the business. “We’re behind right now as we’re sitting here talking.”
Residents of Glenrock, Wyoming, aren’t as lucky. More than 1,000 buildings in the town lost service because of a pipeline problem, and temperatures were hovering between zero and 5 degrees in some parts of the state.
In Colorado, temperatures fell into the teens — about 20 to 30 degrees below normal — where they’re expected to stay through Thursday, prompting officials to move a Veteran’s Day ceremony indoors in Denver.
No joke for farmers, but ranchers can bear it
Ranchers in the Dakotas were surprisingly upbeat with only a few inches of snow in the forecast, after intense storms in October 2013 killed at least 43,000 cattle that hadn’t yet developed heavy protective winter coats.
“We’ve had enough cool weather (this year) that they’re haired up like bears,” said South Dakota Stockgrowers Association President Bob Fortune, who ranches near Belvidere. “They can take winter now.”
But the storm is stirring anxiety for some farmers in Minnesota and South Dakota whose corn had not yet been harvested. The corn can withstand the cold, but deep snow may delay farmers getting it out of fields.
Roads in parts of northern Michigan were in “very poor condition,” with 2 to 3 inches of snow falling an hour on Tuesday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Justin Titus said. But there were no delays reported Tuesday at Sawyer International Airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport saw the brunt of the cancellations and delays Monday, with about 175 cancellations, while about 19 had been canceled Tuesday out of hundreds of flights, according to the airport.
Elsewhere in Minnesota, the State Patrol said at least two people were killed in accidents on icy roads, and troopers handled 475 crashes and more than 700 spinouts statewide by Monday evening. In eastern Wisconsin, snow-covered roads were blamed for a school bus crash that sent the driver and an aide to a hospital, WBAY-TV reported.
Residents savored breezy but mild weather in Chicago with temperatures near 60 before unseasonably cold and wet weather moved in Wednesday.
“I just wanted to enjoy one of the last nice days,” said 44-year-old Joe Kauda, of the Chicago suburb of Carol Stream.