PIERRE, S.D. — The first real punch of winter ranged across the Upper Midwest on Monday, bringing heavy snow in some areas and plunging temperatures across the region.
The frigid air was pushed in by a powerful storm that hit Alaska with hurricane-force winds over the weekend, and threatened to bury several states in snow and send temperatures as much as 40 degrees below average.
A snapshot of the storm's effects:
WINTER IS HERE
The storm began dropping snow Sunday evening, and by Monday up to 4 inches had fallen in western South Dakota and up to 7 inches in the eastern part of the state. The heaviest band of snow was expected across the midsection of Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, with 12 inches and more forecast for parts of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
North-central Wisconsin was expected to see at least a foot of snow, with more near Lake Superior. Such an accumulation would surpass in one storm what northern Wisconsin usually gets in the entire month of November.
Snow was expected to end Tuesday, but cold air will be around for a while, said Joe Calderone, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service.
A semi carrying a load of turkeys was an early casualty of the storm, overturning on Interstate 94 near Dalton in western Minnesota. Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow says some of the turkeys were killed, but he didn't have an exact number. The truck was carrying the birds to a processing plant in Melrose.
Slick, snow-covered roads were blamed for a school bus crash Monday in eastern Wisconsin that sent the driver and an aide to a hospital. No students were hurt, WBAY-TV reported.
Snow closed some schools in Minnesota and South Dakota.
WHERE'S IT COMING FROM?
The weather is part of a powerful system being pushed in by the remnants of Typhoon Nuri that hit Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Although that storm didn't do much damage in Alaska's sparsely populated Aleutian Islands, forecasters say it's anchoring a system that will push an unseasonably frigid blast of air into the mainland U.S. and send temperatures plunging.
THE GOOD NEWS
Yes, there's good news. Sort of.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration isn't expecting a repeat of the 2013-2014 season. Federal forecasters predicted last month that this winter will be fairly average without a lot of extreme conditions such as last year's Arctic influx from the polar vortex.
That doesn't mean it won't be cold, and other private weather forecasters are predicting a slightly cooler winter than NOAA. And, a reminder: NOAA didn't predict the extreme low temperatures experienced last winter.
READY. SET. WAIT.
If you're flying in the coming days, expect delays. Delta Airlines says snow in parts of the Midwest may affect travel, including to and from Wisconsin and Minnesota. The airline recommends checking your flight status early and often.
Driving isn't recommended in general in winter storm areas, especially in some remote areas of the Northern Plains, but if you must drive, be prepared; Have a full tank of gas, an emergency kit and exercise caution on slick roads with high drifts and low visibility.
Even though South Dakota rancher Roger Weiss lives 35 miles from the nearest town, Faith — with a population of less than 450 people — and 70 miles from a grocery store, in Sturgis, he said the coming snow generally doesn't worry him.
"Roads are generally good, a lot of times they're blowed clean," Weiss said.