Blizzard turns tragic; Iowa fatalities; National Guard deployed; 18″+ near Madison, WI

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Blizzard rages through Friday AM in parts of Iowa & Wisconsin

Fatal 25 car pileup on I-35 about 40 miles south of Mason City, Iowa

I-35 closed south of Albert Lea into Iowa

National Guard deployed in Des Moines to help scores of stranded motorists

13.8″ snowfall at NWS office near Des, Moines Iowa

“Several feet high” drifts near Des Moines

100+ school districts closed Thursday across Iowa

12″ snowfall total at Osseo, WI along I-94 east

18.5″ snowfall totals near Madison, WI at Middleton

Near 50 mph winds gusts whipping snow around tonight

Blizzard Warnings remain in effect into Friday AM in Wisconsin & Illinois

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Gradually improving road conditions Friday in the Upper Midwest.

Good travel conditions by this weekend

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Image: Iowa State Patrol

Blizzard takes a toll:

The warnings were there, but the ferocity of the strongest blizzard in 2 years is taking it’s toll in southern Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

As winds whipped snow into blinding squalls, a 25 vehicle pile up claimed lives south of Mason City along I-34. Numerous accidents forced the closure of I-35 south of Albert Lea.

KARE11 has details:

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Snow and wind have combined to force the closure of southbound lanes on Interstate 35 from Albert Lea to the Iowa border, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota State Patrol.

The lanes were closed at 2 p.m. due to multiple accidents and per the request of the Iowa Department of Transportation. Motorists are advised not to travel until conditions improve and MnDOT and the Minnesota State Patrol open the road. No timetable for that decision has been set.

The 25 vehicle pile up near Dows south of Mason City killed 2 people according to KCCI-TV Des Moines.

Heavy snowfall totals:

The storm has dumped the more than a foot of snow as advertised and then some.

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“Ground Blizzard” as wind rages:

Gusts ot near and over 50 mph have created near zero visibilities in some areas.

One of the dangerous elements in blizzards is the rapid reductions in visibility that can occur. 50 mph winds get dry powdery snow airborne in a hurry. Local topography can “funnels” the snow into blinding squalls that race across freeways. One second you’re driving along at 50 mph in decent visibility, the next is a total white out…you can’t see 5 feet in front of you.

That’s why roads get closed and unfortunately, massive pileups happen.

The La Crosse NWS pleads with drivers not to travel.

Dangerous Winter Storm Continues – Winds Peaking!

Happening NOW…

…TRAVEL NOT ADVISED THE REMAINDER OF THE AFTERNOON…

WINDS ARE GUSTING TO BETWEEN 40 AND 50 MPH ACROSS NORTHEAST IOWA AND SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA…WITH 25 TO 35 MPH IN WESTERN AND CENTRAL WISCONSIN. EXPECT THESE STRONG WINDS TO CONTINUE THROUGH 8 PM. AREA LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES HAVE REPORTED A NUMBER OF ROADS CLOSED. TRAVEL IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED THIS EVENING.

SNOW WAS TAPERING OFF ACROSS SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA AND NORTHEAST IOWA…BUT BLOWING AND DRIFTING OF THE SNOW WAS CAUSING MAJOR IMPACTS TO TRAVEL. EXPECT THE SNOW TO GRADUALLY TAPER OFF EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AFTER 6 PM…WITH BLOWING AND DRIFTING OF THE SNOW EXPECTED THROUGH THE EVENING HOURS.

WITH NIGHTFALL…VISIBILITY WILL BECOME MORE DIFFICULT AND THE DANGERS IN TRAVELING WILL BE GREATER.

Roads and travel: Periodic closures of area highways are occurring because of accidents. Winona county emergency management reports highways 14, 61, and 90 are all closing at times because of accidents. Many vehicles are having trouble getting up hills and trucks are jack-knifed. Cars are stranded in Grant County in southwest Wisconsin and highways 11 and 18 are now closed. Roads in general are becoming impassable. I-35 in north central Iowa has been closed (after one 25+ car pileup).

Heavy snowfall totals:

The Twin Cities got off lucky with this system. Snowfall totals ranged from a snowy coating here at the weather lab in the west metro…to 2″ – 3″ from Lakeville & Hastings to 3″ at Red Wing on the SE fringes of the metro.

Minnetonka & west metro Coating

Burnsville, Apple Valley & Eagan 1″

Woodbury 1.3″

Lake Elmo 1.5″

Lakeville & Hastings 2″

Red Wing 3″

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN

509 PM CST THU DEC 20 2012

…SNOW TOTALS RECEIVED SO FAR…

INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME

—— ———————– — ————– ——-

12.00 4 SE FOSTER WI EAU CLAIRE 0301 PM

7.00 DURAND WI PEPIN 0915 AM

5.00 S OWATONNA MN STEELE 0907 AM

4.00 EAU CLAIRE WI EAU CLAIRE 0438 PM

2.50 RICE LAKE WI BARRON 0415 PM

2.30 12 N BRUCE WI RUSK 0234 PM

2.00 RIDGELAND WI DUNN 0125 PM

2.00 LAKEVILLE MN DAKOTA 1012 AM

1.50 3 SE LAKE ELMO MN WASHINGTON 0655 AM

1.20 FARMINGTON MN DAKOTA 0517 AM

RELAYED FROM WCCO

1.00 2 N APPLE VALLEY MN DAKOTA 0800 AM

1.00 3 SW EAGAN MN DAKOTA 0800 AM

1.00 3 NE BURNSVILLE MN DAKOTA 0716 AM

Heavier totals fell in southeast Minnesota.

Rochester 7″

Spring Valley 8″

Prolific totals over 1 foot came down in Iowa and Wisconsin

0345 PM HEAVY SNOW PORTAGE M14.0 INCH COLUMBIA WI TRAINED SPOTTER

14.0 INCHES STORM TOTAL.

0200 PM HEAVY SNOW 3 W MIDDLETON

M18.5 INCH DANE WI TRAINED SPOTTER

18.5 INCHES STORM TOTAL

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DES MOINES IA

305 PM CST THU DEC 20 2012

…STORM TOTAL SNOW AMOUNTS FOR CENTRAL IOWA…

INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME

—— ———————– — ————– ——-

13.80 NWS OFFICE JOHNSTON IA POLK 1200 PM

13.40 1 N GRIMES IA POLK 0700 AM

13.00 MARSHALLTOWN IA MARSHALL 0700 AM

12.40 DES MOINES INT AIRPORT IA POLK 1200 PM

11.50 6 S MADRID IA DALLAS 0700 AM

11.50 WAUKEE IA DALLAS 0930 AM

11.00 5 ENE DES MOINES IA POLK 0700 AM

10.70 BOONE IA BOONE 0700 AM

10.00 ELDORA IA HARDIN 1200 PM

10.00 WATERLOO AIRPORT IA BLACK HAWK 1200 PM

Winds raged at 50+ across eastern Iowa.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE QUAD CITIES IA IL

405 PM CST THU DEC 20 2012

…HIGHEST WINDS IN THE PAST 12 HOURS…

…LOCATION… …TIME… …WIND…

3 W PLEASANT GROVE (DES MOINES IA) 1202 PM DEC 20 59 MPH

2 SSE JULIEN (DUBUQUE IA) (APRSWXNET) 317 PM DEC 20 56 MPH

DAVENPORT, IA (SCOTT IA) (748 FT)(ASOS) 303 PM DEC 20 54 MPH

MACOMB MUNICIPAL AIRPORT 335 PM DEC 20 54 MPH

INDEPENDENCE (BUCHANAN IA) (AWOS) 1015 AM DEC 20 54 MPH

2 NE FREEPORT (STEPHENSON IL) 315 PM DEC 20 54 MPH

KEWANEE MUNICIPAL (HENRY IL) 353 PM DEC 20 54 MPH

BURLINGTON REGIONAL AIRPORT 1253 PM DEC 20 53 MPH

CEDAR RAPIDS MUNI ARPT (LINN IA) (ASOS) 252 PM DEC 20 53 MPH

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON IA) (AWOS) 1155 AM DEC 20 53 MPH

FORT MADISON (LEE IA) (AWOS) 1255 PM DEC 20 53 MPH

FAIRFIELD (JEFFERSON IA) (740 FT)(AWOS) 115 PM DEC 20 53 MPH

1 NE DELTA (KEOKUK IA) (664 FT)(IADOT) 1220 PM DEC 20 53 MPH

QUAD CITY INTL (ROCK ISLAND IL) (ASOS) 310 PM DEC 20 52 MPH

MOUNT PLEASANT (HENRY IA) (AWOS) 1015 AM DEC 20 52 MPH

4 SE MAYSVILLE (SCOTT IA) (IADOT) 1241 PM DEC 20 52 MPH

CLINTON MUNICIPAL AIRPORT (CLINTON IA) 115 PM DEC 20 51 MPH

CEDAR RAPIDS (LINN IA) (773 FT)(IADOT) 120 PM DEC 20 51 MPH

The forecast will improve as we head into the weekend.

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PH

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