An arctic blast began to dump heavy snow in parts of the northern Rockies, Plains and the Great Lakes regions on Monday and meteorologists said temperatures are expected to plummet throughout the United States.
In Minnesota, police said dozens of car crashes marked the season’s first snow as drivers struggled with slippery roads.
The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings and watches for a wide swath of thenorthern U.S. from northern Idaho to northern Michigan with predictions of more than a foot of snow in many areas and temperatures dipping 20 to 30 degrees below normal.
The storm is expected to hamper travel by closing roads with heavy snow and winds and causing power outages, according to National Weather Service.
Sergeant Jesse Grabow from Minnesota State Patrol said a semi trailer hauling turkeys overturned on Interstate 94 Eastbound near Dalton, Minnesota, early on Monday morning. The driver was uninjured but there were some turkey fatalities, he said.
In the Twin Cities metro area, there were 128 crashes, nine with injuries and 74 vehicles spun off the road, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
A cold front associated with the storm will dump rain on the lower Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and as far south as the western Gulf Coast on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
The last time a storm of this magnitude hit the region this early in the winter season was around Halloween of 1991, said Andy Lahr, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“It’s a fairly rare system to get this amount of snow” this early in the season, Lahr said.
Lahr said the weather forecast for the region has temperatures in the teens and even single digits Fahrenheit in some areas. “So, pretty cold for this time of the year,” he said.
In Minneapolis, a layer of slushy snow piled up on the streets.
“Right now it’s winter as usual, but I’ve heard it’s supposed to get a lot worse this afternoon and into tomorrow,” said Rachelle Waldon, 23, who works at North Central University Book Store. (Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Sandra Maler)