Second round arrives: Up to 12 inches of snow expected in Twin Cities through Thursday

A winter storm warning remained in effect for the Twin Cities with up to 12 more inches of snow expected to fall into Thursday, the strongest phase of a forecasted major snow event.

Heavy snow and winds of 20 to 25 mph — with gusts up to 40 mph — were expected to start Wednesday evening. Across east-central Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, blowing and drifting snow is expected to lead to whiteout conditions making travel nearly impossible, according to the National Weather Service. Gusting winds and temperatures with wind chills of 16 below are in Thursday’s forecast.

The Minnesota State Patrol recorded 92 crashes, eight with injury, in a 12-hour period from 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, on top of 52 vehicle spinouts or off-road accidents and a jack-knifed semi truck.

The National Weather Service issued an airport weather warning for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport until at least 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, noting that snow was falling at a rate of three-quarters of an inch or more per hour.

“Further aviation weather warnings will likely be needed through the night,” the NWS reported.

More to come Wednesday night to Thursday

In fact, for those dismissing what could be the worst snowstorm since the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 as so much poppycock, the National Weather Service’s Chanhassen office offered a cautionary tweet Wednesday:

“There seems to be some confusion this morning because the sun has come out,” read the Weather Service’s Twin Cities social media account. “Does this mean all we got was a measly 3-5″ and it’s over? Nope! As we’ve talked about for days, round 2 is on the way and it will pack a punch! Expect an ADDITONAL 10-15″ by tomorrow morning.”

Hot takes on the multi-phase storm — a total of anywhere from 17 to 24 inches of snow or more are in store by Friday — abounded, and some are more tongue in cheek than others.

Social media user @AllRoadsMN posted to Twitter an image of downtown Minneapolis under threat by a rampaging, Godzilla-like Bumble, the abominable snow monster of the north from the 1964 stop-motion animation television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The caption: “Good luck, everyone.”

Said a doubting Thomas St. Paul resident on social media, “I’m guessing it’s going to be a complete letdown of a snowstorm.”

Students at home

Not all was cold and grim. With schools declaring back-to-back snow days and online learning days, some saw an excuse for extra cuddle time with kids, cats or a good book.

St. Paul Midway mom Rachel Weeks said her preschooler, who was born during a heavy snowstorm in 2019, is turning 4 on Friday during yet another major snowfall. “All she wanted for her birthday was big brother to play with her,” said Meeks on social media. “She got it!”

Also on social media, Steve Subera shared his plans for “family game night — old school, no electronics. This is after family shovel night, but before family shovel morning and family shovel afternoon.” Barbara Teed posted a picture of herself bundled up as a child, shoveling snow at home with her mother in Falcon Heights in the winter of 1955.

“I’m surviving my first (Minnesota) winter here,” said social media user @kaplajk, a 59-year-old transplant from Washington, D.C. “I’ve tried snowshoeing (and cross-country) skiing a few times this winter (and) hiked in the snow. I like it. Much better than heat! Don’t own a car, am grateful there’s pretty good transit here. I got the milk/eggs (and) I’m watching it arrive with this one!”

Snow emergencies

Cities on Wednesday began canceling in-person meetings and rolling out plans for emergency snow-removal operations.

West St. Paul declared a snow emergency, with towing beginning at 2 a.m. Friday. Maplewood closed its City Hall on Wednesday and Thursday and announced trash service would be delayed by one day on each route.

Arden Hills officials asked residents to move cars for plowing as soon as 2 inches of snow accumulated. “If possible, clear the snow from around the fire hydrant near you,” reads the notice posted this week to the Arden Hills website.

The city of St. Paul declared a snow emergency — the first of two snow emergencies, expected back-to-back — triggering night plow operations that were scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Wednesday and focus on making busy arterial streets passable to emergency vehicles. Salting and other pre-treatments began even before the snow did.


“Plows are out plowing,” said St. Paul Public Works spokesperson Lisa Hiebert on Wednesday afternoon. “Tonight, we’ll have about 70 plows out, so we’re reminding people to move their cars off of night plow routes by 9 p.m.”

Day plowing on residential streets is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Thursday. A second snow emergency is expected to begin anew at 9 p.m. Thursday, followed by another round of day plow operations during the day Friday.

While not entirely unprecedented, the burdensome double-billing of snow emergencies is rare by design. City officials have said towing and tagging will be in effect, and they’ve asked for public cooperation relocating cars out of the way of plows during what will be an elaborate snow-removal operation.

“It requires residents to move their cars four times within not even 48 hours,” said Hiebert, who noted compliance tends to wane as the season stretches on, even as plowing to the curb gets more difficult. “This is going to be our sixth and seventh snow emergency for the year. If we ever needed people to move their cars, this is the time.”

The traditional cleanup phase intended to widen travel lanes — which can stretch a St. Paul snow emergency across 96 hours — would likely extend through the weekend. Public Works is asking residents and contractors not to shovel snow into the street, where it will become compacted.

Free parking

Eight city-owned ramps in downtown St. Paul are offering free parking from 5 p.m. Wednesday until noon on Saturday.

In St. Paul, residential garbage and recycling collection scheduled for Thursday will be rescheduled to Saturday. Collections scheduled for this Friday will be postponed a week. Residents can put out extra bags on March 3 at no additional cost. More information is online at and


School districts organized instruction around the predicted snowfall in differing ways. St. Paul Public Schools went remote for online “e-learning” on Wednesday and planned to do so again Thursday, followed by a snow day on Friday.

The West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan district, which had a snow day on Wednesday, planned an e-learning day on Thursday. The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district planned e-learning both Wednesday and Thursday, as did Stillwater Area Schools and Forest Lake Area Schools. White Bear Lake Area Schools declared both days to be snow days.

Minneapolis Public Schools planned three e-learning days, which was complicated after parent-teacher conferences were canceled Tuesday because of serious computer software problems, leaving many students without physical access to their iPads. In a notice on Tuesday evening, the school district said it had deployed an advanced virus alert system and uploaded backup data, and was “working around the clock with third-party … IT specialists to investigate the source of this disruption.”


Ramsey, Washington and Dakota county libraries were to close Thursday due to the weather.

High school tournaments

Meanwhile, the Minnesota State High School League announced it isn’t canceling any state tournaments scheduled during the storm. Girls hockey and gymnastics tournaments are continuing.

“High School Girls Hockey and Gymnastics State Tournaments for this week are expected to take place as scheduled,” read a statement from the MSHSLL. “Teams are being encouraged to watch the weather and make travel plans accordingly. We look forward to hosting two great tournaments.”

Minnesota Legislature

Lawmakers at the Minnesota Legislature in St. Paul put their work on hold because of the snowstorm and canceled floor sessions and committee hearings for the rest of the week.


The Minnesota Historical Society closed its Twin Cities sites to visitors Wednesday and Thursday. Those include the Minnesota History Center and Gale Family Library, Historic Fort Snelling, the Mill City Museum and the James J. Hill House.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum will be closed Thursday due to the weather. Museum officials will decide Thursday about whether to reopen for regular hours Friday. Those interested in visiting the museum on Friday should check prior to a visit for up-to-date information on museum hours.

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