Freezing rain continues after record warmth over holiday weekend

A number of branches with ice
Ice covers tree branches in Moorhead, Minn., on Monday.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Updated: 1:30 p.m.

A storm system continued to drop freezing rain on parts of the Red River Valley on Tuesday after bringing both blizzard conditions and record warmth to the region over the holiday weekend.

Utilities reported several thousand homes and businesses without power Tuesday in northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.

And transportation officials in the Dakotas closed stretches of interstate highway amid the icy, snowy conditions.

An ice storm warning remains in effect for the Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks areas until 6 p.m. Tuesday. Blizzard warnings remain in effect for western South Dakota.

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Winter weather advisories are in effect for parts of northern Minnesota for ongoing chances of light freezing rain. A gale warning is in effect for Lake Superior; east winds were gusting to nearly 50 mph at the Duluth harbor early Tuesday.

Power outages

As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Cass County Electric Cooperative in North Dakota was reporting more than 3,200 customers without power in areas west of Fargo and Wahpeton.

“Conditions on the roads and right-of-ways are hazardous between the ice and now mud with the continuing rain, but our lineworkers are doing their best to restore power to as many members as possible,” Cass County Electric Cooperative officials reported in an update Tuesday morning. “There are several thousand members without power and over 150 unique outages at this time, and it changes with the minute.”

Otter Tail Power was reporting about 3,000 customers without power in its North Dakota service areas west of Fargo and Wahpeton.

Xcel Energy and Lake County Power each reported several hundred customers without power in their service areas.

Highway closures

North Dakota transportation officials said Tuesday morning that westbound Interstate 94 remained closed west of Jamestown due to icy conditions.

An earlier closure of Interstate 29 between Grand Forks and the Canadian border was lifted as of early Tuesday afternoon. Icy road conditions were reported across the eastern half of the state.

MATBUS transit service in the Fargo-Moorhead area started late Tuesday due to road conditions.

In South Dakota, Interstate 90 reopened Tuesday morning after an earlier closure west of Mitchell.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported icy roads across much of northwest Minnesota. Roads were wet across the rest of the state — with some ponding on Twin Cities freeways in the wake of more than an inch of rain over the past couple of days.

Rain showers were changing over to light snow at times in the Twin Cities on Tuesday as colder air filtered into the region.

Ice and slush along a highway
Traffic traverses icy, slushy road conditions on Tuesday morning along State Highway 9 near Beltrami, Minn.
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Record highs

Monday was the warmest Christmas Day on record in parts of Minnesota.

The National Weather Service reported that the official high at the Twin Cities airport on Monday was 54 degrees. That broke the old record of 51, set back in 1922. The average high for Dec. 25 in the metro area is 26 degrees.

Duluth set a record high of 46 on Monday and St. Cloud also set a record with a high of 48 degrees. Rochester climbed to a record high of 53. That follows record highs in all of those locations on Sunday.

Ski hill woes

The warm, rainy weather has been causing problems for some downhill ski and snowboard areas in Minnesota.

Spirit Mountain in Duluth is closed Tuesday and Wednsday. Officials there say they hope that’ll help preserve the existing snow base and give crews time to prepare the slopes for skiing in cooler conditions forecast for later in the week.

Wild Mountain near Taylors Falls and Mount Ski Gull near Nisswa also announced they would be closed Tuesday. Welch Village near Red Wing planned to open late.

Here’s how to keep tabs on forecasts, travel conditions and flight updates.

Forecast updates

Travel conditions

These state transportation departments offer live updates on road conditions and crashes:

For bus and light rail riders in the Twin Cities, Metro Transit offers weather-related updates on its Metro Transit and Metro Transit Alerts Twitter pages, as well as on its website.

Flight updates

If you’re planning to fly from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or another airport around the region — or if you are expecting visitors to arrive by plane — airports offer flight status updates online: