A blizzard surged across the upper Midwest today, stranding hundreds of truckers, shutting down schools and businesses, and snuffing out a frail warm spell that blossomed briefly in the wake of record arctic cold.
A foot of snow fell in a wide band from Fargo, N.D., to Ely, Minn., near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northeastern Minnesota.
Temperatures that had climbed to the 40s and 50s in some areas Monday after a weeklong run of lethal arctic cold nose-dived again as the storm moved through, sending the wind chill to 60 below zero in many areas.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol advised area residents against venturing out on the snow-swept highways and warned those who had to go out to take along survival gear in case they got stranded in the storm.
A foot of snow piled up along the Minnesota-North Dakota border and winds gusting to nearly 60 m.p.h. stacked up drifts that clogged interstate highways, leaving hundreds of stranded truckers huddled at truck stops, waiting out the storm.
About 200 trucks were stranded at two truck stops near the Minnesota-North Dakota border around Fargo, N.D., where up to a foot of snow was reported.
Doug Fuller, manager of the Flying J Travel Plaza on Interstate 29 south of Fargo, said about 150 trucks and their drivers were at the plaza, waiting out the storm.
"It's pretty tough out here. The on and off ramps to the interstate are blocked with snow. Drifted up she is," Fuller said.
Airport, Schools Close
About 40 to 50 truck drivers and some motorists were stranded at TJ's Truck Stop off Interstate 94 east of Moorhead, Minn.
Hector International Airport in Fargo closed, and all public schools in both Fargo and Moorhead shut down. North Dakota State University in Fargo and Moorhead State University and Concordia College in Moorhead also canceled classes.
Most businesses in the two cities also closed.
Blizzard warnings were in effect for parts of South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. Heavy snow also was forecast for parts of Wisconsin and Michigan.
The storm was expected to bring bitter cold to the Plains and most of the Midwest by Wednesday morning. Fargo had winds of 33 m.p.h. and a temperature reading of 2 below--for a wind chill of minus 53.
Forecasters said the temperature would drop to 25 below in northern Minnesota by tonight, pushing the wind chill to polar depths.