Blizzard, storm warnings, power outages continue as winds increase Friday
South Shore snowbelt could see more snow into Christmas Day.
DULUTH — Winds across the region continue to gust Friday evening and are expected to remain strong through the night and into Saturday — blowing snow, reducing visibility, glazing roadways and causing dangerously cold wind chill values.
Many Northland residents are experiencing power outages as a result of the strong winds and downed trees and power lines.
The National Weather Service in Duluth says dangerous wind chills up to 40 degrees below zero will also continue through Saturday. Gusts of up to 60 mph are expected to cause blizzard conditions on the North Shore near Grand Marais, Silver Bay and Two Harbors and will last through Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day.
About 1,200 Minnesota Power customers experienced outages Friday, with the largest areas impacted in eastern Duluth, Lakewood Township and Carlton. By 5 p.m. Friday, all but approximately 25 customers in Cloquet and Duluth had power restored.
"Snow-loaded trees from the previous storm combined with strong winds are a concern for additional tree damage and power outages," the National Weather Service advised in its Friday evening weather update.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook the entire county (approximately 2,500 households) was experiencing an outage Friday afternoon beginning around 5 p.m. As of 8 p.m., Sheriff Pat Eliasen had not announced a restoration, but asked people affected by the outage to only call dispatch in an emergency as their phone lines were "overwhelmed" by calls about the outage.
Blizzard warnings are posted for the North Shore and South Shore and much of southern Minnesota. The Twin Ports and surrounding area's winter storm warning was downgraded to a winter weather advisory Friday afternoon by the National Weather Service. Up to 2 inches of snow could fall in Cook County by Saturday afternoon, while the South Shore is anticipating up to 21 inches near Hurley, Wisconsin, by Sunday evening.
Meanwhile wind chill advisories continue into Christmas morning for the entire region, with wind chill values hitting 40 below zero and colder in some areas.
At 7 a.m. at Duluth International Airport the temperature was 14 below zero but the wind chill value — or the “feels like temperature’’ — was 42 below zero. Frostbite can occur in just 15 minutes at that point. At 5 p.m. Friday, the temperature was 1 degree above zero with a "real feel" of 23 degrees below zero.
“If drivers become stranded during the storm, conditions could be life-threatening,’’ Weather Service forecasters noted in their morning advisory.
Travel across much of the Upper Midwest was expected to remain difficult with blowing snow causing most of the issues. But heavy, lake-effect snow will continue to fall along Lake Superior’s South Shore into Christmas Day and snow was still falling along parts of the North Shore as well, where Lutsen and Tofte reported a foot of new snow from the ongoing storm.
This story was updated at 8:20 p.m Dec. 23 to add information about a power outage in Cook County. It was originally posted at 8:20 a.m. the same day. Please check back for updates.