Winter Storm Quinn Brings Blizzard Conditions to the Northern Plains and Spreads Snow Through the Midwest, Great Lakes

the Meteorologists
Published: March 6, 2018

Winter Storm Quinn has brought blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and also spread snowfall through the Midwest and Great Lakes to begin this week.

Quinn will bring heavy snow to the Northeast Wednesday as a coastal low-pressure system develops. For more details on the Northeast forecast for Quinn, see our coverage at the link below.

(MORE DETAILS: Winter Storm Quinn Northeast Forecast)

This winter storm is being fueled by a potent southward dip in the jet stream that dumped heavy snow over the Mountain West the last several days. That plunge of the jet stream is now marching eastward across the rest of the country.

Happening Now

Winds gusting 30 to 50 mph will continue to result in areas of blowing and drifting snow in the northern Plains through Tuesday.

The worst conditions are expected from central and southeast South Dakota into northeast Nebraska and far northwest Iowa where blizzard warnings remain posted.

Near-zero visibility and eight-foot-high drifts were reported early Tuesday near Red Elm, South Dakota, a rural community in the northwestern part of the state.

Interstate 90 in central and eastern South Dakota and Interstate 29 in eastern South Dakota remained closed as of Tuesday morning.

(MORE: Winter Storm Central | How Winter Storms are Named)

Current Winter Alerts

Elsewhere, generally light to locally moderate snowfall will continue to hamper travel in parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes through the day.

Current Radar and Weather Conditions

Quinn has brought up to 19 inches of snow to North Dakota in Ellendale. Both South Dakota and northern Minnesota have seen maximum snow totals of up to 14 inches.

Pierre, South Dakota, reported blizzard conditions for nearly 10 hours on Monday.

Whiteout conditions were observed in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area just in time for the Monday evening commute. The Twin Cities received a quick 2 to 4 inches of snowfall.

Wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph were clocked in western South Dakota on Monday. 

Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes Forecast

  • On Tuesday, snow is expected from the Great Lakes westward to the Dakotas.
  • The snow will be lighter in intensity overall on Tuesday, but could still contribute to travel delays.
  • High winds will continue to fuel blizzard conditions in the areas under a blizzard warning in the northern Plains.
  • Additional accumulations from Quinn will be light in most areas.
  • As mentioned before, Quinn will impact the Northeast Wednesday and Thursday. You can find those details at this link.

Tuesday's Forecast

Snowfall Forecast Through Tuesday

Winter Storm Quinn Western, Plains, Midwest Recap

Winter Storm Quinn began as a slow-moving, but deep trough dropped southward from the Gulf of Alaska toward the Pacific Northwest on Feb. 28. A cold front associated with Quinn swept through the West Coast, from Washington to central California, on March 1 with a reinforcement of moisture and cold air.

Blizzard conditions and snow drifts up to 4 feet were reported near Kingvale, California, late March 1.

At the summit of Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California's Sierra Nevada, wind gusts over 130 mph were clocked March 1, with several gusts over 70 mph in other parts of California and Nevada March 2.

The warm side of Quinn also brought locally heavy rain to California.

Dozens of collisions were reported on San Francisco Bay Area highways, according to the Associated Press, likely due to rainy and windy conditions. In the Bay Area, many rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches had been reported from the evening of Feb. 28 into the afternoon of March 1 while a few spots in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, located south of the Bay Area, had seen more than 6 inches of rain.

In Southern California, a burst of locally heavy rain prompted a flash flood warning for parts of the Thomas Fire burn area on the morning of March 2.

Multiple collisions and slide-offs were reported near Spokane, Washington, due to icy conditions during the early-morning commute March 2.

Carson Pass, on California State Highway 88, was closed in both directions March 2 due to snow. Chain controls were put into effect in most passes through the Sierra.

Several semis were blown over in southwestern Wyoming due to high winds. At least one minor injury was reported, and that stretch of road was restricted to light semis on the morning of March 2 into that afternoon.

Wind gusts across northern Utah and southern Wyoming ranged from 60 to 90 mph on the morning of March 2, including a gust to 74 mph in Salt Lake City.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in California's Sierra Nevada had picked up 4 feet of snow in the 24 hours ending the morning of March 2. At Mount Rose in Nevada, up to 3 feet of snow was measured. Many ski resorts were rooting for the best snow of the season so far.

Lake-effect snow from the Great Salt Lake helped to enhance snowfall in parts of the Salt Lake City metro area on the morning of March 4. The airport received 2.5 inches in 3 hours and reported a storm total of 8.2 inches as of the afternoon of March 4.

Glasgow, Montana, received 13 inches of snow from Quinn on Sunday. That is the northeastern Montana town's second-heaviest one-day snowfall in records dating 1894. By midday Monday, its storm-total snowfall had increased to 14.7 inches.

Thundersnow was reported in Williston and Ray, North Dakota, late-afternoon on March 4, as heavy snow blanketed highways across northwestern portions of that state.

Here are selected snowfall totals through early Tuesday.

  • California: 81 inches at Kirkwood; 72 inches at June Lake; 68 inches at Squaw Valley; 62 inches at Mammoth Mountain
  • Colorado: 7 inches at Snowmass and Sunlight ski resorts
  • Idaho: 40 inches at the Swede Peak SNOTEL near Hailey; 37.7 inches at the Galena Summit SNOTEL near Ketchum
  • Illinois: 2.3 inches near Nora
  • Iowa: 5.3 inches in Elon; 2.5 inches in Sioux City
  • Minnesota: 14 inches in Menahga and Bluffton; 3.2 inches in Minneapolis
  • Montana: 18.1 inches at the Lakeview Ridge SNOTEL near Island Park; 14.7 inches in Glasgow; 10 inches near Billings
  • Nebraska: 1.3 inches in Stapleton
  • Nevada: 57 inches at Mount Rose; 28 inches near Incline Village; 7.5 inches at Reno Airport
  • North Dakota: 19 inches in Ellendale; 6.3 inches in Fargo
  • Oregon: 10 inches near O'Brien; 2.5 inches near Bend
  • South Dakota: 14 inches in Gary
  • Utah: 17 inches near Almo; 8.2 inches in Salt Lake City
  • Washington: 26 inches in Malott; 0.05 inches of ice near Millwood (near Spokane)
  • Wisconsin: 8.3 inches near West Salem; 3 inches in La Crosse
  • Wyoming: 41 inches at the Grand Targhee SNOTEL near Alta; 29 inches in Jackson Hole

Here are selected wind gust reports through early Tuesday.

  • California: 146 mph near Alpine Meadows; 63 mph at the South Lake Tahoe Airport
  • Idaho: 62 mph near Magic Mountain
  • Nevada: 87 mph at Mather RAWS weather station; 82 mph near Verdi; 79 mph at the Mount Rose Summit; 69 mph near Carson City
  • Utah: 87 mph at Snowbasin near Ogden Peak; 86 mph in Alta; 74 mph near Salt Lake City
  • Wyoming: 71 mph near Garrett

PHOTOS: Winter Storm Quinn

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.