‘Unprecedented’ December weather expected Wednesday, Tornado Watch issued

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Meteorologists are monitoring as a system with the potential for damaging winds and severe thunderstorms is moving into the region Wednesday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued multiple advisories for the region, adding Wednesday’s forecast hasn’t been seen before in mid-December and is unprecedented.

A Tornado Watch was issued for much of southern Minnesota, parts of central Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin at 5:30 p.m. and is set to expire at 11 p.m.

At 8:18 p.m., the NWS said there was a reported tornado in Plainview, in Wabasha County, and the storm is expected to continue northeast in parts of Pepin County and southern Dunn County.

A high wind warning is also in effect overnight for much of the area overnight and the NWS warns of freezing fog and heavy snow rolling in.

KSTP Meteorologist Wren Clair reports widespread severe weather is expected to enter southern Minnesota Wednesday evening, with fast-moving thunderstorms as part of the mix.

Clair advises having a severe weather plan in place.

According to the NWS, wind gusts of more than 80 mph are possible, and storms will be moving between 60-70 mph. KSTP Meteorologist Matt Serwe says severe storms in the summer typically move around 30-50 mph.

KSTP Meteorologist Jonathan Yuhas said evening storms are expected to last until around 9 p.m.

Calm conditions are expected to briefly return until more high winds will cause temperatures to drop and roads to freeze over during the overnight hours and through Thursday morning.

Wind gusts of more than 60 mph are expected with the overnight front.

Wednesday afternoon, the Metropolitan Airports Commission said due to the strong winds, air traffic controllers may direct aircraft to use the crosswind runway instead of the parallel runways. If that happens, residents near the airport may notice unusual flight patterns when the parallel runways aren’t being used.

In addition, those traveling by air out of MSP should check their schedule for disruptions, with officials saying regularly scheduled arrivals and departures may be delayed into the overnight hours, or canceled.

Chief Meteorologist Ken Barlow reported a record high temperature was reported at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, at 52 degrees. The record was previously set at 51 degrees in 2014. Barlow reported temperatures are expected to continue rising Wednesday.

Tips to prepare during severe weather

Wondering what to do to keep you and your family safe? Here are a few tips offered by Serwe:

  • Pay attention to trusted weather sources.
  • Plug in and turn on weather radios, and also put fresh batteries in your radio. Due to the potential of strong winds, the chances for power outages are also higher.
  • Check that Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are turned on in your phone.
  • Think about your severe weather plans, and if your family may be going out, find out where your shelter will be if a severe storm approaches.
  • Bring items inside which could blow around, such as garbage cans and large holiday decorations in your yard. Additionally, stay away from any damage from strong winds, as broken glass or other sharp objects, along with building materials and trees, could cause serious injury.
  • Clear snow away from downspouts so water can get away from your home, as well as storm drains found near your property. Clearing the snow will limit how much ice can form when temperatures drop overnight.
  • Make sure friends and family members who live in areas listed in NWS advisories and warnings are aware of the potential for severe weather.
  • Those who must drive are advised to use caution, slow down, use headlights, and leave plenty of distance between vehicles.

Earlier, foggy and drizzly conditions lasted through the lunch hour.

Members of the Minnesota State Patrol reminded drivers to turn on their headlights due to the fog, adding automatic lights may not come on during daytime hours.

Meanwhile, earlier Wednesday traffic cameras showed multiple crashes between 490th Street near Pine Island and 480th Street near Zumbrota caused a closure of northbound US 52, and a detour was in place until about 11:30 a.m.