Highways across southwest Minnesota reopen after overnight closures due to drifting snow
Updated: 3 p.m.
A long stretch of Interstate 90 and other state highways across southwest Minnesota reopened Friday morning, after overnight closures due to drifting snow and whiteout conditions.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said Interstate 90 between Fairmont and the South Dakota border reopened at 9 a.m. Friday.
MnDOT’s 511 traffic map showed all other highways were back open as of Friday afternoon, though still snow-covered.
Authorities said efforts to clear snow off highways Friday morning were hampered by vehicles stranded on the roads.
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Elsewhere in the state, MnDOT was reporting snow-covered highways across much of central and northern Minnesota on Friday morning.
The dangerous driving conditions prompted many school districts across the state to cancel classes, move to online learning or delay the start of classes by a couple of hours Friday.
The State Patrol said it responded to more than 200 crashes and spinouts across the state amid the snow and gusty winds on Thursday evening. That included one fatal crash, along U.S. Highway 10 in Ramsey.
Dozens of drivers were left stranded Thursday night after their vehicles got stuck in snow drifts, or after highways were shut down.
In a letter posted online Friday, thanking agencies, businesses and individuals who helped in the storm response the night before, Cottonwood County Sheriff Jason Purrington said 52 stranded drivers spent the night at the Business, Arts and Recreation Center (BARC) in Windom.
The Westbrook Community Center sheltered 12 drivers, and the Jeffers United Methodist Church and Mountain Lake Community Center also assisted stranded drivers.
The gusty northwest winds brought much colder conditions to Minnesota in the wake of the snow, with subzero temperatures reported Friday morning in northern Minnesota, and single digits above zero in the south. The average low temperature for March 17 in the Twin Cities is 25 degrees.
South Dakota crash
Driving conditions were slippery but improving as of midday Friday across eastern South Dakota. No-travel advisories that had been issued earlier for parts of the state were dropped.
On Thursday afternoon, a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper and a semi driver escaped with minor injuries after the semi crashed and came to rest on top of the Patrol SUV.
The Highway Patrol reported that the trooper has been providing traffic control along eastbound Interstate 90, between Hartford and Sioux Falls, when the semi lost control and hit his squad. Photos from the scene show the truck resting at a precarious angle atop the trooper’s SUV.
Links for more information
Here’s how to keep tabs on forecasts, travel conditions and flight updates.
MPR News: Live weather blog and real-time radar
National Weather Service: Snowfall reports
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.
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:
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.