A ‘ground blizzard’ is ahead for Minnesota — here’s what that means

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Despite snowfall not being in our immediate forecast, blizzard conditions can be expected throughout Minnesota.

As of Thursday night, many highways in southwest Minnesota were closed because of blowing snow leading to low visibility. The snow that did fall earlier in the week was light and fluffy. Now, with high wind speeds expected, “ground blizzard” conditions can be expected.

“One of the big things we’ve been stressing is, if you do end up getting stranded, it’s a life-threatening situation due to the wind chills,” said Tyler Hasenstein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Twin Cities office.

“We’re going to have what we term a ‘ground blizzard,’” Hasenstein said, adding: “Within our criteria, you need to have three or more sustained hours of a quarter mile or lower visibility, and that comes with either falling or blowing snow.”

The NWS Twin Cities says not everyone will see those conditions, but that doesn’t mean people should take the other warnings lightly, including the winter weather warning many Minnesotans have.

“Just because it’s not the big one, which is the blizzard warning, does not mean that conditions are going to be good and that you should be traveling,” Hasenstein said. “We’re really recommending people to stay off the roads if they unless they absolutely need to go somewhere.”