Blizzard and cold hit western Minnesota
A major snowstorm roared onto the icy landscape of west central Minnesota early Thursday, following by high winds in the afternoon and evening, creating blizzard conditions across much of the region.
Many roads were closed across western Minnesota and travel was not recommended overnight.
Dangerous wind chills accompanied the storm system, which was expected to continue through Friday morning. The recent snow and high winds Thursday afternoon and overnight created whiteout conditions through much of western Minnesota.
Travel was not advised along many highways in west central Minnesota Thursday afternoon and evening due to extremely hazardous driving conditions, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Some roads were closed due to multiple vehicles blocking the roadway.
Specific counties advising no travel included Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Redwood and Renville counties and most points westward to the South Dakota border.
The official Twitter account for the Minnesota State Patrol reported 413 crashes statewide between 5 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday, 32 of those with injury but none serious or fatal. During that period, the Patrol responded to an additional 494 vehicles spun out or off the road and 18 jackknifed semis.
The Willmar forecast Friday is sunny and cold, with a high of 6 below zero, according to the National Weather Service. Wind chill values will range as low as 39 below, with west northwest winds of 10 to 15 mph, and gusts as high as 30 mph.
Friday night will drop to a low around 18 below zero with wind chill values as low as 32 below. Saturday's temperatures are forecast to warm to a high near 7 below with wind chills as low as 31 below.
Follow winter current road conditions as well as camera views through MnDOT's traveler information website: www.511mn.org. Road conditions on major highways can also be viewed through the Road Weather Information System, which is also part of the 511MN web site.
Travelers can check Minnesota road conditions at www.511mn.org or download a free app at Google Play or the App Store.
Renville and Chippewa counties were among the counties pulling their plows off the highways midday Thursday. Kandiyohi County and the city of Willmar pulled their plows about 5 p.m. Thursday.
All crews will back on the roads and streets Friday morning, according to county and city officials.
Schools were closed Thursday, activities were canceled, and some businesses were closing early Thursday evening due to the deteriorating conditions.
Some schools in the region announced Thursday night that they would be closed Friday and others made plans to open two or three hours late.
Recent school closings for snow or cold are piling up for many schools. Some, including New London-Spicer, have begun adjusting schedules to make up snow days. Some athletic and activities events that were canceled due to weather are not being rescheduled as the winter playoff season is starting.
Due to the winter weather conditions, some West Central Tribune subscribers may experience a delay in their delivery Friday. The carriers are doing their best to deliver your newspaper as soon as possible as roads are plowed and opened.
The blizzard conditions Thursday ranged from southern Minnesota and Sioux Falls, Sioux Dakota, northward through the northern edge of the Red River Valley.
Minnesota officials closed Interstate 94 between Fergus Falls and Fargo. They also closed U.S. Highway 10 from Dilworth to Lake Park. Parts of I-94 were also closed from Fargo to Jamestown in North Dakota.
Interstate 29 was closed from Grand Forks in North Dakota to the South Dakota border.