Light powdery snow, falling temperatures and a persistent 15 mph wind made for some difficult driving conditions Monday in west central Minnesota.
The Minnesota State Patrol reported more than 200 crashes statewide on Monday morning, and most of the southern part of the state was under a winter storm warning or a winter weather advisory. The storm warning was ending Monday night, but the weather advisory continues through 6 p.m. today.
The snow started Sunday and continued on Monday. Road conditions deteriorated throughout the day, with slick streets in the towns and drifting and low visibility in open areas.
Many schools in the area closed for the day Monday. Others that did open sent students home early.
One fatality was reported Monday morning. It occurred at 8:40 a.m. on state Highway 55 west of Rockford. A 2005 Pontiac Grand Am eastbound on Highway 55 crossed the center line and crashed head on into a 2003 GMC Yukon that was westbound, according to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol.
The driver of the Pontiac was killed in the crash; the driver of the Yukon, David R. Koosman, 53, of Rockford, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to the State Patrol report. The identity of the driver who died was not available on Monday.
Snowfall totals were expected to be from 6 inches to 9 inches in much of west central Minnesota. The National Weather Service as of Monday evening reported 9 inches of snow at Sacred Heart, 8 inches at Willmar, 7 inches recorded in an area southwest of Granite Falls and 6 inches at Litchfield. The most recent report from the Weather Service showed Monday morning figures of 6.5 inches at Benson, 6.2 inches at Montevideo, 3.5 inches at Murdock and 3.1 inches at Bird Island.Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, said winds will continue through today as part of a massive weather system that's affecting the Great Plains states. "It'll drive the winds across the entire Midwest," he said.
Winds are expected to hold steady at 15 mph with gusts of 20 to 25 mph today. Combined with air temperatures that will be 15 below zero, the wind chill tonight could read 30 below to 35 below, said Friedlein.
Although the snow will have ended, "the wintry type weather will last through Wednesday morning," he said.
There will be a warm-up on Friday and Saturday, Friedlein said, but "there's still a lot of cold air in Canada" that could make the first week of February quite cold.