The first winter storm of the 2014-15 season named Astro released its fury on a big portion of the United States Monday. The massive weather system coming out of Canada extended across several states from eastern Idaho through Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Michigan. In addition to dumping very heavy snow on the ground, Astro is also bringing with it strong damaging winds. The storm has pushed a frigid blast of cold air into the northern part of the US where temperatures have plunged between 20 and 40 degrees below normal. Snowfall from Astro is moving over the northern high plains states into the upper Great Lakes with snowfall accumulations being measured mostly in feet instead of inches.
Up to 10 inches of snow blanketed parts of southern and eastern Montana Monday with drifts up to 3 feet around buildings being observed. Eight inches of snow was measured in Webster, SD where patchy freezing drizzle also wreaked havoc on roadways. Conditions were so bad in the Rapid City area Monday due to blowing snow and freezing rain that the Regional Airport had to close down at one point. Portions of western and central Minnesota was blasted with over a foot of snow by noon-time Monday. The Department of Transportation in that state warned against travel in western Minnesota as roadway conditions were extremely dangerous.
As Astro moved eastward, it dumped 14 inches of snow in northwestern Wisconsin and 12 or more inches in the western portion of Michigan’s upper peninsula. During the evening hours of Monday, the National Weather Service warned people living in the UP of Michigan not to put their guard down just yet as Astro was going to dump more snow Tuesday as well as a wintry mix of precipitation.
The big winter storm is drawing in much colder air and gusty winds that could very well disrupt travel and other daily activities for people living in the north central states through mid-week. The bitter cold air in the wake of the winter storm will continue to zero in on the northern Rockies and northern Plains as it plunges even further south over the central part of the US. Snow, dangerous travel conditions and frigid temperatures will make being outside miserable for people living in the Denver, CO area Tuesday and Wednesday as the main part of Astro moves west and blasts the Upper Midwest. The National Weather Service warned travellers to be ready for poor roadway conditions from the central and northern Rockies all the way to the Upper Midwest.