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The snow and high winds all day Saturday created poor driving conditions even in town, as seen on this view of Seventh Street Northwest in Willmar. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

Roads in region open again after blizzard paralyzed most travel

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Road conditions were listed as fair or difficult with scattered snow-packed and icy spots as state highways reopened to traffic Sunday in west central Minnesota.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota State Patrol reopened the roads in Kandiyohi, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Meeker, McLeod and Yellow Medicine counties Sunday morning after closing the highways and pulling the snowplows at 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon due to poor visibility from blowing and drifting snow.

Most of the region was in the area of the state that saw 6 to 10 inches of snow, according to the Weather Service storm report. The Weather Service did not have many detailed reports from this region. An observer for the Weather Service in Vesta in Redwood County reported 9 inches of snow.

Several area businesses closed early on Saturday due to minimal traffic, and some did not even open their doors. Some area events were postponed as well.

Tribune readers seemed to take it all in stride.

Rachel (Radabaugh) Eichhorst commented on the Tribune's Facebook page: "... all of these storms are making this season that more memorable."

In his Facebook post, Phil Pelkey perhaps was welcoming the blizzard, or not: "It's winter isn't it? Gotta love Minnesnowta!"

As of 7:30 p.m. Sunday, many roads in southeastern Minnesota remained in hazardous condition. The difficult driving conditions included Interstate 90, which closed Saturday morning and remained closed from Albert Lea to the South Dakota border until Sunday afternoon.

Local incident reports for the Willmar Police Department and Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office showed that officers and deputies assisted many motorists whose vehicles got stuck in the snow. The officers helped by shoveling snow and pushing the vehicles, and by assisting with traffic control as vehicles were towed.

One Willmar officer went as far as showing an inexperienced driver how to drive his vehicle through the snowdrifts, giving the lesson while the vehicle was blocking traffic into an apartment complex parking lot.

Statewide, Minnesota State Patrol troopers responded to 115 crashes involving property damage only and 17 crashes with injury, but no fatal crashes between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. Troopers also responded to 610 vehicles off the roadway.

The National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory for almost all of central and southern Minnesota for Sunday night, as temperatures dropped below zero and wind chills reached 25 to 30 degrees below zero.

The high temperature for today in Willmar is expected to be 2 degrees, with wind chills between 14 and 24 below. The low tonight will be around 5 below, with wind chills between 11 and 16 below.

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