Winnipeg Jets fly back to Winnipeg after blizzard forces diversion of trip to Minneapolis

The Winnipeg Jets have flown back to Winnipeg after a blizzard prevented the team's flight from landing in Minneapolis Saturday afternoon.

Team says Jets will attempt to fly again Sunday morning

The Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine arrives at the Winnipeg airport on Saturday to board a flight to Minneapolis. The flight was later diverted to Duluth, Minn., a 250-kilometre drive away. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

The Winnipeg Jets have flown back to Winnipeg after a blizzard prevented the team's flight from landing in Minneapolis Saturday afternoon.

Scott Brown, a spokesperson for Jets owner True North Sports & Entertainment, had confirmed Saturday afternoon the Jets' plane, en route from Winnipeg to Minneapolis, was diverted to Duluth, Minn., about a 250-kilometre drive away.

But a tweet from the team's public relations Twitter account later in the day Saturday said the Jets had returned to Winnipeg and will attempt to make the trip again Sunday morning. 

The Jets are scheduled to play the Minnesota Wild in Game 3 of their first-round NHL playoffs series, which the Jets lead 2-0, on Sunday.

A blizzard is currently sweeping through the northern U.S., leading to numerous road closures and flights in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport being cancelled.

Niko Heiligman, of Aachen, Germany, and Lea Stimpel walk along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis during a snow storm on Saturday, April 14, 2018. The National Weather Service predicts 9 to 15 inches of snow across a large swath of southern Minnesota including the Twin Cities before it's all over. (The Associated Press/Steve Karnowski)

Arriving at the Winnipeg airport before his flight Saturday, Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine said he hoped for a landing in Minneapolis. 

"I'm not flying the plane. I don't know about the weather," he said. "I'm just going to sit on the plane and hopefully we're going to land in Minneapolis." 

A couple of early afternoon and evening flights to Minneapolis from Winnipeg's Richardson International Airport were cancelled due to the weather. Two flights to Toronto were also cancelled, due to an ice storm from the same weather system pounding the U.S.

Winnipegger Melanie Lee Lockhart told CBC News she was trying to drive into Minneapolis for a show Saturday and had to turn back.

"We got to 90 miles west of Minneapolis and winds were bad, highway was slippery, blowing snow was starting. When we saw the [National Weather Service] warning we pulled the plug."

The U.S. National Weather Service calls the blizzard "historic," adding up to 10 centimetres of snow an hour could fall in and near the Twin Cities. 

"Total snow accumulations of [20-38 centimetres] are expected through Sunday from southwest Minnesota to east central Minnesota and northern Wisconsin," the service said. "Totals will taper off to [10-20 centimetres] across west central Minnesota."

Patrik Laine stops by to sign autographs at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport April 14, 2018 before boarding a flight to Minnesota. 0:23

With files from Laura Glowacki