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Up to 17 inches of snow coats Minnesota

Dec. 9, 2012 at 9:40 PM   |   Comments

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- A big winter storm dumped 17.3 inches of snow on a little southern Minnesota town Sunday, and messed up motorists in the Twin Cities, meteorologists said.

AccuWeather.com said by 4 p.m. CST Sacred Heart had recorded 17.3 inches of snow and winds were blowing it around, reducing visibility to as little as 1 block. Minneapolis and St. Paul and received about a foot.

While the snow was expected to taper off, gusty winds were creating blizzard conditions in eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota Sunday evening, with eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin next in line as an arctic front swept down across the Midwest, AccuWeather.com said.

Sections of Interstate 29 and 90 in South Dakota and numerous other roads throughout southwestern Minnesota were closed by authorities because of the treacherous conditions.

Temperatures were to plunge below zero across the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota, and highs Monday will only top out in the teens in and around Minnesota, AccuWeather.com said.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported the Minnesota State Patrol said more than 300 collisions were reported, with 32 injuries, since 9:30 p.m. Saturday, said Lt. Eric Roeske, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol. Another 330 vehicles slid off the road or spun out.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune said there had been one storm-related traffic fatality involving a tractor-trailer rig near Red Wing.

Several dozen flights were canceled at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

The Star Tribune reported Minnesota Transportation Department spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the nasty conditions were foiling plow crews' efforts to keep roads clear.

"With the wind picking up and blowing and drifting snow, our operators can't see the road," he said. "It's not safe to operate, so we pulled them off.

"This would be a good afternoon or evening to hunker down and maybe do some online shopping."

The Star Tribune said snow emergencies and parking restrictions had been declared for the Twin Cities and Plymouth, Bloomington, Golden Valley, Mendota Heights, St. Louis Park and St. Cloud.

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