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Schools close early as wind whips up new snow

WILLMAR - A number of schools in west central Minnesota have already closed - or will be closing early today - as weather and driving conditions continue to deteriorate.

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WILLMAR – A number of schools in west central Minnesota have already closed – or will be closing early today – as weather and driving conditions continue to deteriorate.

Students in the Willmar, New London-Spicer, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and Paynesville school districts will be sending students home after lunch.

Students in Brooten-Belgrade-Elrosa, Benson and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg districts, as well as nearly 20 other districts to the west, closed earlier in the day.

Travel has been tricky all day with a layer of ice from an early-morning rain and 3-5 inches of new snow.

Northwest winds of 20 to 25 mph are starting to pick up with gusts of almost 40 mph, which is causing blowing snow and reduced visibility, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a winter weather advisory until 6 p.m.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation will have crews out until about 9 p.m. to keep state highways clear. Most roads in the region are ice-covered and slippery with blowing snow reducing visibility, according to MnDOT.

In Kandiyohi County roads are compacted with drifting snow.

β€œThe rain and the amount of snow exceeded what any of the weather services were saying,” said Dave Fritz, maintenance supervisor with the Kandiyohi County Public Works Department.

Fritz said crews have been sanding since 5:30 a.m. and will be out until 5 p.m. and back at it again early Wednesday morning, when the area could see another couple inches of snow.


Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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