MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An arctic cold front has descended on Minnesota, shrouding the southwestern part of the state in whiteout conditions and threatening dangerously cold wind chills across Minnesota overnight.

The system entered the state’s northwestern corner early Wednesday morning. The combination of light snow and wind gusts up to 40 mph cut visibility to near zero, prompting some highways to close as conditions deteriorated. Schools in the area cancelled classes, and the Minnesota State Patrol reported several crashes involving semis.

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As the morning continued, the system swept along the Minnesota-Dakota border, where a blizzard warning was in effect until 6 p.m. The warning area included several counties in west-central and southwestern Minnesota, where blowing snow made travel all but impossible in open areas.

With some improvement, the National Weather Service dropped the blizzard warning and replaced it with a winter weather advisory in southern Minnesota. But near whiteout conditions are seen in southwestern Minnesota with less than a half of a mile of visibility. Travel is ill advised in these areas.

Meteorologist Chris Shaffer says temperatures are taking a nosedive. Evening temperatures in the Fargo area were around 15 degrees below zero. Factor in the 40 mph wind gusts, and it felt like 40 below. In such cold, frostbite can set in on exposed skin in just minutes.

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After nightfall, arctic cold will cover Minnesota. Overnight temperatures are expected to dip below zero across the state, with wind chill factors making it dangerously cold. Every county will either be under a wind chill warning or wind chill advisory until late Thursday morning.

The good news is that the arctic air won’t stick around long. Friday will be slightly warmer, with temperatures in the teens, while Saturday will bring a surge of warmth, with highs in the mid-30s.

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The start of next week also looks to be mild, with a chance for snow/rain on Monday, that could reach one to three inches.