WILLMAR - Area schools are closed and snow plows are out in force as a winter storm continues to track through the area during the day.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports that major highways in the Willmar area remain completely covered with a mix of snow, ice or slush and that motorists are encountering white outs and drifts. The department’s 511 website also reports vehicle spin outs in various locations.

Snow plows have been out since 3 a.m., and remain out in full force, MnDOT reports. It warns that due to the heavy snowfall rates, roads will remain snow-covered as they are filling in rapidly behind the plows.

The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities reports that areas south and east of Willmar can expect to see snowfall totals in the 8- to 10-inch range at day’s end. Snowfall totals in the 6- to 8-range are expected in areas northwest of Willmar.

Reports from earlier this morning from the Weather Service showed 7.5 inches of snow in the Marshall area at 8 a.m. and 4 inches in Olivia. Willmar had recorded 2.9 inches of snow as of 6 a.m. and Paynesville showed 1.3 inches.

The snow is expected to remain heavy through the morning and taper off in the late afternoon and evening.