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High winds along 5th Street Southeast hampered visibility greatly on Sunday afternoon behind the Walmart store in Willmar. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

Update: U.S. 71 south of Olivia now open; blizzard conditions persist

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WILLMAR — Strong winds are causing white-out conditions this afternoon, bringing travel to a standstill across western Minnesota.

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U.S. Highway 71 was closed from Minnesota Highway 19 near Morton to U.S. 212 in Olivia for part of the day but reopened late in the afternoon. The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported hazardous driving conditions across the region, with blowing and drifting snow and poor visibility.

On several highways, snow was drifting across the roadway. Icy patches also are being reported in many locations.

Authorities are advising no travel.

The National Weather Service said a northwest wind is gusting at 30 to 40 mph across the western and southern part of the state, with some gusts reaching 55 mph. Winds are not expected to die down until late tonight. Temperatures also are dropping and will fall into the subzero range tonight, bringing dangerous wind chill readings that are expected to last into Tuesday.

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Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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