Bluff forecasting - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Bluff forecasting

WINONA, MN (FOX 47) -- Winona emergency officials are also keeping their eye on this storm, but their forecast is a little bit different compared with the rest of Southeast Minnesota.

Up on the ridge top above the city of Winona, it's windy and fully exposed to the elements. Down in the valley, Winona gets added protection from the bluffs, that officials hope will shelter residents from the up-coming storm.

"Up on the hill is a different is a different world than down in the valley. They call Winona the Miami of Minnesota."

Except for the fact it still snows and is much colder. Emergency management officials like Bob Bilder say the Mississippi River Valley has unique weather patterns from the rest of Southeast Minnesota.

"It's because of the way the winds travel up the Mississippi Valley, and keeps the valley in a much warmer type of climate than on top of the ridge," says Bilder.

The difference in elevation from the top of the ridge to down in the valley is 600 feet. Bilder says the direction of the winds will determine their storm prediction.

The bluffs, combined with the Mississippi River, can add some protection from storms, but not always. March of 2007 brought thick, heavy snow straight down into Winona.

"You had cold air over us, high precipitation coming in from the south, colliding over our area and dumping it out. And not only did we have the 30 inches of snow, but it was a heavy snow."

Bilder says the conditions of Monday's storm is a little different and he says he expects lighter snow. But Bilder says emergency management and MnDOT will pay close attention to I-90 as the storm picks up. He says the highway tends to get the brunt of storms.

"If we have winds, like they're predicting, that's going to blow some of the roads clear. It's also going to blow some of the snow down, off over the hill site, and the hill roads will be a little bit worse."

Bob Bilder says some people around here can get superstitious. He says cattle and horse owners have noticed their animals feeding heavily, predicting a possible long winter.

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