Heavy snowfall closes schools, delays travel

Published 7:58 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2019

By Albert Lea Tribune and the Associated Press


Fast-falling snow with accumulations of up to 10 inches closed scores of school districts in the Upper Midwest on Wednesday and delayed ground and air travel.

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The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for much of central and southern Minnesota, through eastern South Dakota and into western Wisconsin.

Minneapolis and St. Paul schools were among the districts that canceled classes Wednesday, along with all seven of the Albert Lea area school districts. The weather service expected the Twin Cities to get anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of snow, which would assure a record total for any February since records have been kept.

Albert Lea received about 8 inches of snow.

Runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were temporarily closed as accumulating snow tested plow drivers who tried to keep up. MSP spokesman John Welbes said “the rate of snowfall is the challenge.”

Among the larger Minnesota cities, New Ulm had 10 inches, Worthington 9 inches and Mankato 6 inches of snow. Gov. Tim Walz canceled his plans for an education visit to Moorhead on Wednesday because of tough travel conditions.

In Wisconsin, several dozen public school districts and private schools, mostly in the southwest, called off class Wednesday as commuters struggled with snow-covered and slippery roads.

In South Dakota, the Sioux Falls School District, where 7 inches of snow had fallen, delayed the start of classes, while other districts canceled school altogether. The South Dakota Department of Transportation’s travel map showed highways and interstates throughout the state as snow-covered and slippery.

By Wednesday evening, roads had improved slightly, though some were still partially covered and completely covered as of the evening commute.

Weather was expected to improve Thursday and Friday before another storm system moves into the area Friday night. That system includes freezing rain and snow.