It's not often that thunder and lightning show up in combination with snow, but then again, it's not all that often a powerful winter storm strikes in April.
This storm seemingly has it all, and what it was lacking in the initial phase in snowfall totals, at least in Douglas County, it is making up for in variety.
The thunderstorm aspect showed up in late morning Thursday, producing many bright flashes of lightning and accompanying thunder. It was intermittent, but still occurring a couple of hours later.
By then the snow, which alternated between heavy and light throughout the morning, had become hardened into more of a sleet mix. Throw the sleet pellets in with steady winds of 26 mph and gusts to 45, and they really packed a punch.
The snow that preceded that created an icy glaze on some road surfaces that made for dangerous driving conditions. By early afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Transportation was describing many state and federal highways in Douglas and Grant counties as being in hazardous driving condition, and issuing a no-travel ban on them and on Interstate 94 from Moorhead to Osakis. (See related story on www.echopress.com.)
The blizzard warning remains in effect for Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens and Stearns counties until 10 a.m. Friday, with an additional 5-13 inches of snow forecast in this area. Otter Tail and Todd counties are part of a winter storm warning that covers a large amount of Minnesota.
Locally, the National Weather Service forecast for Alexandria was for 5-6 inches of new snow during the day Thursday, another 5 inches overnight, and an additional 2-3 inches of snow possible Friday.
No snowfall totals had been reported in the area as of 2 p.m., and while the blowing and drifting snow made it more difficult to assess accurately, higher snowfall amounts were being reported to the south, across South Dakota and through central Minnesota.
Those reports included: 14 inches in Ortonville, 11 in Dawson and Northfield, 10 in Burnsville and Brownton, and 9 in Glencoe.