Several highways across south-central and southwestern Minnesota remained closed Friday morning as blizzard conditions and dangerous wind chills combined to affect travel both on the ground and in the air at the start of the holiday weekend.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has given no timeline on closures of major travel routes such as Interstate 90 from Albert Lea to the South Dakota border, Hwy. 60 from Mankato to Worthington and parts or all of other highways through towns such as St. James, New Ulm, Windom, Winthrop, Blue Earth and Fairmont.
Travel was not advised in much of the central part of the state where a blizzard warning remained in effect until Saturday morning as consistently howling winds between 35 and 45 mph will create whiteout conditions and drift that will make some roads impassable, the National Weather Service said. .
“Travel should be limited to emergencies only,” the National Weather Service said. “Getting stranded will have deadly implications” as rescue operations will be “extremely difficult”.
As of 6 a.m., more than 20 accidents and traffic jams were reported on roads in the metropolitan area, the MnDOT said. In the past 24 hours, the State Patrol has responded to more than 470 accidents statewide.
Snow emergencies remained in effect in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Friday.
Air travelers should prepare for another tough day for vacationers after thousands of flights across the country and in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was canceled on Thursday. As of 6:30 a.m., more than 3,100 flights had been canceled nationwide for Friday, including 50 flights arriving and departing at MSP, according to flight tracking website flightaware.com.
No flights will take off or land at the Sioux Falls, SD airport until at least 6 p.m. Friday. The airport closed on Thursday evening and it was uncertain when it r
“Due to blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures affecting much of our equipment, the airport will be closed indefinitely,” the airport said on its Facebook page.
Amtrak has canceled Empire Builder trips between Chicago and Seattle through Sunday. The train stops at Union Depot in St. Paul.
FRIDAY: Northwesterly winds will increase throughout the day peaking late afternoon and remaining strong through Saturday morning. Gusts approaching 50 mph are expected in Alexandria, Fairmont, Marshall and Redwood Falls. Wind speeds could reach 45 mph in the Twin Cities.
SATURDAY: The coldest wind chills are expected Friday and Saturday morning, with readings between -25 and -45 degrees. Wind chill warnings for the metro area and the western and southern half of Minnesota will be in effect until noon. Wind chill advisories for eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin will be in effect until noon.
SUNDAY: A sunny start with high temperatures in the single digits above zero. A chance of snow towards evening.
LOOKING AHEAD: A mid-week thaw with highs forecast to touch 36 degrees Wednesday and Thursday.
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