First day of christmas blizzard causes road closures, power outages on Plains


CHICAGO – It is a white — but it’s slippery and messy — Christmas for the northern Plains and a number of Western states.

Most of the Dakotas and southwestern Minnesota was changed into a slippery mess by freezing rain Sunday morning before the snow came later in the day as the temperature dropped.

“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.”

Gust’s advice for vacationers: “in.”

A blizzard warning was in effect for most of North Dakota, western South Dakota and a small part of eastern Montana through Monday, with expected snow totals of 8 to 15 inches and winds of up to 55 km / h.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation announced the closure Sunday night on Interstate 90 from the border with Wyoming to Chamberlain-a strip of about 260 km. “The freezing rain from earlier in the day, and the fall temps have created icy and muddy roads; falling snow and increasing winds are creating zero visibility in the west,” the ministry said in a statement.

The North Dakota Transportation closed Section of a 240-mile stretch of Interstate 94 the night of Sunday to Monday, the Montana border to Jamestown. A 100-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 83 between Bismarck and Minot also was closed due to drifting snow and near zero visibility.

To a 1/2 inch of ice could accumulate in the centre of Minnesota, and the weather service has said that anyone who “travel” have to have an extra flashlight, food and water.

Meteorologist Bill Abeling of the Bismarck NWS office told the Bismarck Tribune that ice accumulation was allegedly caused by power failure in the neighborhood of Jamestown and Verona.

In the southeast part of Nebraska, strong winds were cited as the most likely cause of about 800 Omaha Public Power District customers lose power on Sunday, the Omaha World Reported.

Rain and possible storms were due to move through parts of Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska on Sunday.

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