December 12, 2010 in Nation/World

Midwest blanketed by heavy snowfall

Patrick Condon Associated Press
Associated Press photo

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students Erick Carlson, left, and Tony Tillman play a game of shirtless bean bag toss outside their home near lower campus in Eau Claire, Wis., on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

MINNEAPOLIS – A powerful snowstorm socked the upper Midwest on Saturday with as much as 20 inches of snow, forcing authorities to close roads across five states as heavy winds made for treacherous driving conditions.

The snowstorm was expected to be followed by dangerous cold. North Dakota experienced wind chills of 20 degrees below zero, and the arctic air was expected to drop temperatures below zero by tonight throughout the Dakotas and in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Minnesota State Patrol said there were 76 crashes reported statewide, but none with fatalities or serious injuries, and 319 reports of vehicles sliding off roads.

“The areas that were hardest hit are virtually impassable,” said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske.

With the snow and winds combining to make visibility difficult for drivers, Minnesota transportation officials closed the westbound portion of Interstate 90 near the South Dakota border, pulled plows off roads in the southern part of the state and told drivers to stay home.

The Twin Cities east metro area received 15 to 20 inches of snow and was expected to see another 1 to 3 inches before the storm tapered off there.

Heavy snow was falling in northern Iowa, where up to 10 inches was expected, and eastern South Dakota, where 5 to 8 inches was forecast. Portions of Interstates 29 and 76 were closed in Iowa and South Dakota.

The weather also postponed to Monday an NFL football game that had been set for today between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. The Giants were stuck Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo., after their flight was diverted there with the Twin Cities airport closed.

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