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Winter weather blows in again

A Nobles County truck removes drifting snow from Nobles County 10 Thursday afternoon near Worthington. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

By Erin Trester and Beth Rickers, Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Inside the Worthington city limits on Thursday, it seemed to be a relatively balmy day. Compared to the sub-zero days area residents have gotten used to experiencing, temperatures in the high 20s and powerful sunshine created slush on the city streets.

But motorists who ventured outside of town experienced yet another ground blizzard, with high winds limiting visibility, creating finger drifts across the roadways and even patches of black ice when blowing snow stuck to the road surface.

A number of accidents — a few with injuries — were reported in Nobles County and throughout southwest Minnesota. A total of 20 accidents had been reported throughout the region as of late Thursday afternoon.

Eleven of the accidents involved vehicles traveling off the roadway. Seven were property damage accidents, three of them rollovers and two injury-rollover crashes.

“At first appearances it seems as though the roads are nice, but the temperature switching from above and below the freezing mark causes re-freeze, which is where things get dangerous,” said Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha of the Minnesota State Patrol.

Listed below are some of the accidents that occurred in the local area as of late Thursday afternoon:

* A property damage rollover accident was reported Thursday westbound on Interstate 90 west of Luverne. No injuries were reported.

* The Nobles County Sheriff’s Office responded to a property damage accident on Thursday involving a vehicle hitting a barrier cable. No injuries were reported.

* The Nobles County Sheriff’s Office also responded to two non-injury accidents almost consecutively. At 6:09 a.m. Thursday there was a report of a semi on its side Nobles County 25 near Wilmont; at 6:57 a.m. on Nobles County 35 near Lais Avenue there was a report of a rollover accident in which driver couldn’t get out of her vehicle. No injuries were reported. 

“Even though there’s been blowing snow it has been a little warmer than usual, so people may think they can go faster,” Sticha said. “But the roadways are just not that cleared up.” 

While he sees a few weather “hiccups” in the coming days, meteorologist Brad Temeyer of the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., gave hope for better conditions in the near future.

“There are a couple of spots of snow that we’re looking at,” Temeyer said late Thursday morning, with about half an inch of snowfall expected in the Worthington area Thursday night into this morning. “We have one late Friday night — I would really call it Saturday for you guys — and then there’s one final system possibly Sunday night into Monday.”

But warmer temperatures are also on the horizon, which means that last bout of precipitation may not come as snow, Temeyer noted.

“It does look like we’re breaking into a warmer pattern,” he explained. “It’s just a small shift in the pattern, but it’s going to result in large changes for us. The flow aloft, instead of being out of the northwest, will become more out of the west — not out of the arctic region — and that makes a big difference.”

If the projected weather models are correct, Temeyer said temperatures could reach the mid-40s by next Wednesday.

“It does look like a good warmup next week,” he said. “You could call it a winter thaw.”

And as far as this being a particularly brutal winter so far, Temeyer said that while there have been a lot of sub-zero temperatures, it hasn’t been a record-breaking season yet.

“I know that it was the sixth windiest (January) on record in South Dakota, due to the arctic intrusions we’ve experiences,” he said. “And for you guys in southwest Minnesota, especially with being on the Buffalo Ridge, you see even more of the stronger winds, so it probably carries over pretty well for you.

“But as crazy as it sounds, it’s been worse.”

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers may be reached at 376-7327. Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

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