Whiteout conditions prompt highway closures in southwest Minnesota

Drifting snow covers a rural highway
Drifting snow covers State Highway 68 near Taunton, Minn., on Thursday.
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Updated: 5:50 p.m.

Highways across much of southwest Minnesota — including a long stretch of Interstate 90 — were closed Thursday evening due to blowing and drifting snow causing whiteout conditions.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported that Interstate 90 was closed between Jackson and the South Dakota border. Most other state and federal highways in southwest Minnesota were closed, too — and MnDOT said it expected the highways to remain closed until Friday morning.

In addition to I-90, other highway closures included:

  • State Highway 60 between St. James and the Iowa border

  • State Highway 23 between Granite Falls and I-90

  • U.S. Highway 14 between Sanborn and the South Dakota border

  • U.S. Highway 59 between Clarkfield and the Iowa border

  • U.S. Highway 71 between Sanborn and the Iowa border

  • U.S. Highway 71 between Ivanhoe and the Iowa border

Even where highways technically were open Thursday evening, MnDOT was advising no travel across most of the southwest quarter of the state.

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Find additional closure and road condition information on MnDOT’s 511 site.

Local roads were in tough shape, too. The Murray County Sheriff’s Office reported just before 6 p.m. that all county roads were closed.

“We have numerous vehicles stuck in the middle of the road, or in the ditch. Please stay off the roads!” the sheriff’s office, based in Slayton, reported on Facebook.

Officials in Nobles and Cottonwood counties pulled their plows off the roads Thursday afternoon due to near-zero visibility.

Earlier in the day, MnDOT said some highways in southwest Minnesota were drifting shut as soon as plows went through.

Some school districts in western Minnesota canceled classes Thursday, or moved to an online learning day. Others dismissed students early, as road conditions started to deteriorate.

Authorities were reporting snow-covered roads across most of the rest of western and northern Minnesota as of Thursday evening. Rain changed over to snow Thursday afternoon in the Twin Cities.

Here’s how to keep tabs on forecasts, travel conditions and flight updates.

Forecast updates

Travel conditions

These state transportation departments offer live updates on road conditions and crashes:

For bus and light rail riders in the Twin Cities, Metro Transit offers weather-related updates on its Metro Transit and Metro Transit Alerts Twitter pages, as well as on its website.

Drifting snow covers a rural highway
Drifting snow covers part of the driving lanes along State Highway 30 near Dovray in southwest Minnesota on Thursday.
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Flight updates

If you’re planning to fly from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or another airport around the region — or if you are expecting visitors to arrive by plane — airports offer flight status updates online:

Trail conditions

While a winter storm can cause trouble for travelers, it can be welcome news for skiers, snowmobilers and other winter activity enthusiasts.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers updates on cross-country ski and snowmobile trail conditions at state parks and along state trails around Minnesota.

The Minnesota Ski Areas Association posts updates on snow conditions at downhill ski and snowboard areas around the state.

The Loppet Foundation posts updates on cross-country ski trail conditions in Minneapolis.

SkinnySki.com shares cross-country ski trail updates from across the state.