By JEFF BAENEN, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Heavy snow and strong winds pushed across the Midwest on Monday, prompting highway closings in Kansas and South Dakota, school cancellations in Minnesota and grounding of flights in Denver and Minneapolis.
In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton called out the National Guard to help stranded motorists, the Star Tribune reported.
The National Weather Service said more than 10 inches (26 centimeters) of snow has already fallen on North Platte in western Nebraska. In southern Minnesota, the storm dumped 9 inches (22 centimeters) on Owatonna by midday Monday. Dozens of school districts in Minnesota canceled classes.
Weather service meteorologist Bill Borghoff in Minnesota says the storm started brewing Saturday night over Nebraska and spread to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He called it “a very classically developed winter storm,” with widespread heavy snow on its northern end.
Transportation officials advised against traveling in southwest Minnesota due to whiteout conditions. Winds were gusting up to 40 mph (64 kilometers), Borghoff said.
“If you don’t have to travel, don’t travel,” Borghoff said.
Truck driver Brian Hoppenrath, 59, of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, said he was making his third trip of the day between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Mason City, Iowa, delivering hamburger buns when he couldn’t see and had to pull into a truck stop near Owatonna, where he’s stuck because of the slippery conditions.
“Even if I could move I would not because it’s not safe out there,” Hoppenrath said. “You got to know when to get off.”
About a dozen flights were canceled or delayed at Denver International Airport on Monday, partly due to a storm hitting Minneapolis. Airlines are working to catch up a day after about 200 flights from Denver, about 15 percent of the day’s schedule, were canceled because of snow. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport reported more than 400 cancellations by Monday afternoon, with average delays of about six hours, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Pat Hogan said.
“It’s really a tough day at the airport,” Hogan said.
The storm brought blizzard conditions to much of Nebraska and forced the Woodbury County Courthouse to close in Sioux City, Iowa.
South Dakota transportation and public safety officials closed north and southbound lanes of Interstate 29 from around Sioux Falls south to the Iowa border because heavy snow and strong winds made travel nearly impossible.
The Department of Transportation said numerous vehicles, including jackknifed semis, are stuck along the interstate, which is closed from Tea south to Iowa.