By first light on Thursday things were already closing down in the Duluth area. Lighter-than-normal traffic crawled through blowing snow. Small drifts already snaked across lesser traveled streets, while high winds rocked cars on the bridges between Duluth and Superior.
Local television posted more than 30 school closing announcements in the area. Duluth Superintendent Keith Dixon says school is doubtful for Friday.
"I don't see anything at this point, from what I can see, that would suggest that we're going to be able to have school tomorrow, with the wind, the snow, the drifting," he said.
“If they get caught out in this, it is going to be a life-threatening situation.”Dan Miller, National Weather Service
In Duluth, the city's squad of snowplows is struggling to keep up. The city's snow clearing fleet is half the size it was just ten years ago, with fewer than 40 plows now on the streets.
Duluth police have asked people to stay home, and according to Tom Elwell, with the Duluth Transit Authority, they're pulling the buses in Thursday evening.
"We're going to suspend services at 5:55 tonight. What that means is the last buses going east and west and up the hill are going to depart downtown at 5:55," Elwell said.
A decision will be made early Friday about bus service.
The city's senior meals programs were canceled, and neighborhood centers closed. Julene Boe, with Duluth's Parks and Recreation Department, says they even closed a municipal ski hill.
"It's just not safe out there for kids to be outdoors or skiing; everything. So, even though it's a nice wintry day, it's not safe for some of these activities," Boe said.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Dan Miller says, in the Duluth area, the storm will be most intense from about now, and well into Friday - with an inch or two of snow each hour and winds of at least 30 miles per hour. But near Lake Superior, Miller says, those winds will howl inland with gusts over 50 miles per hour.
"Anybody with travel plans; I mean if they get caught out in this, it is going to be a life threatening situation, because it's not going to be easy to get help to you if you get stranded somewhere."
Miller says this second storm in a week packs a double threat - from the snow falling now and the snow that fell just a couple of days ago.
"We do have, you know, a foot and a half to two feet of snow already on the ground from the storm last weekend, and most of the roads have snow piles on the sides of them, which makes a very natural snow fence to catch and create even higher drifts with this storm. And if you have very limited visibility when you're driving you may not even see one of these drifts until you're stuck in it," Miller warned.
If things were moving slowly today, they might not move at all Friday - with life in the Twin Ports just snowed in place until the weekend.