Blizzard arrives; I-90 closes

Published 10:43 am Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trucks and cars drive on a slushy Interstate 35 on Saturday morning. The Minnesota Department of Transportation advised against travel Saturday, and Interstate 90 west from I-35 has closed. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

A low pressure system moved over northwest Iowa on Saturday, bringing with it snow and high winds for much of the Upper Midwest.

Interstate 90 west from the junction with I-35 closed around 10:30 a.m. Saturday because it was impassable to the west as a blizzard descended on the region. It was expected to remain closed until late Sunday morning.

Friday evening was snowy from Owatonna northward, but the Albert Lea area turned out to have freezing rain and slush, making the roads Saturday morning messy but passable. Visibility was limited.

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Travel was not advised for Saturday, as a blizzard shut down pretty much everything. The blizzard was spread across parts of South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

The National Weather Service had a blizzard warning for west central, southwest and south central Minnesota. The forecast for Albert Lea called for the temperature to hit 18 around 4 p.m. Saturday and a north northwest wind of 18 to 21 mph increasing to between 28 and 31 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.

The forecast called for Albert Lea to receive 5 to 9 inches of snow. Some areas of the state could receive 18 inches. The highest levels were forecast on a line from Hutchinson and Mankato then across the Twin Cities and into west central Wisconsin.

Minnesota Department of Transportation spokeswoman Rebecca Arndt said a no-travel advisory was issued early Saturday because snow and strong winds have severely limited visibility. She says department officials are even ordering plows off roads in open areas.

By Saturday morning, as much as 7 inches already had fallen over parts of the northwest Twin Cities, with 2 to 5 inches across other parts of the metro area, the National Weather Service reported.

Sunday was to bring blowing snow, with high of 1 below and gusts up to 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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