Blizzards, ice storms wreak havoc across the northern plains

Dec. 25, 2016: Than firefighters Shane Weltikol, left, and Chad Nicklos clear accumulation of snow from outside the fire station in the centre of Than, N. D., when the Christmas day blizzard intensifies.

(Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

CHICAGO travel conditions remained dangerous as a winter storm swept over a large part of the northern Great Plains on Monday, with blowing and drifting snow forcing the closure of an airport and the creation of near-to-no visibility on some roads.

The combination of sleet, snow and strong winds, which forced the shutdown Sunday of vast highways in the Dakota’s to stay until Monday, and the authorities have issued no travel warnings for much of North Dakota.

The National Weather Service in Bismarck, North Dakota, said a blizzard warning would remain in effect for most of the state Monday in the afternoon or early evening. Heavy whiteout conditions led to the closure of the Minot International Airport, and the facility was not expected to reopen until 3 pm, Tuesdays. The airports in Fargo and Bismarck also the list of flights on their websites.

“Between the ice and the snow, and the wind is howling like crazy, there will be nothing in motion” until the late afternoon of Monday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust in Grand Forks, North Dakota. “It’s dig-out time.”

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Gust advice to travelers: “Stay put.”

The storm has caused widespread power outages in the Dakotas, Nebraska and western Iowa.

The South Dakota Rural Electric Association said more than 12,000 of its customers were without power Monday morning. In Nebraska, the wind, gusting to 70 mph were cited for hundreds of power outages in the central and eastern parts of the state on Sunday, although Monday morning, utilities reported that power was restored for most customers.

The North Dakota Department of traffic closed a 240-mile stretch of Interstate 94 the night of Sunday to Monday, the Montana border to Jamestown. That piece remained closed on Monday morning. s of the U.S. Highways 2, 52 and 281 were closed due to snow, ice and “near zero visibility.” Motorists who drive past the roadblocks can be fined up to $250.

No-travel advisories were issued for much of North Dakota, including Williston, Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Jamestown, Valley City and Grand Forks areas.

The authorities in South Dakota exit of Interstate 90 from the border with Wyoming to Chamberlain, a distance of approximately 260 km. And the Rapid City Fire department sent its special tracked vehicle for the first time this season to help stranded motorists east of Rapid City.

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