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Heavy Snowfall Blankets the Midwest

Weather: Drifts of more than 2 feet are prompting the closings of schools and roads.

November 28, 2001|Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota snowplow crews parked their rigs Tuesday because they couldn't keep up with blowing, drifting snow that closed schools for thousands of youngsters from the Plains to the upper Great Lakes.

Willmar, Minn., had more than 29 inches of snow as the storm's heaviest snowfall lingered over west-central Minnesota.

At least five traffic deaths have been blamed on the storm. Schools were closed from Nebraska to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, many for a second day.

"The weather is really gross. I mean really bad this year," said Ed Kinkle, State Patrol dispatcher in Spooner, Wis. "We have extremely large amounts of snow with great drifting and blowing."

Snow fell at a rate of 2 to 3 inches an hour in Willmar, about 100 miles west of Minneapolis, the National Weather Service said.

Snowplow crews were pulled off state highways in parts of southwestern and western Minnesota because of zero visibility and poor road conditions, and the state Department of Transportation urged everyone to stay off roads in that part of the state Tuesday.

"If you don't know how to cuss, this [storm] will teach you," Clara City, Minn., Police Chief Ralph Bradley said.

About 20 trucks were parked at the Hillcrest Truck Stop north of Willmar while their drivers waited for the roads to improve.

"They're coming in and eating," manager Margaret Serbus said. "I don't think they're worried, they're just bored."

One trucker arriving at the Cenex Travel Plaza in Willmar had to wade through waist-high snow drifts to get from his rig to the restaurant, supervisor Christine Just said.

Several drivers bought disposable cameras at the truck stop so they could collect proof of why they weren't on the road. "The dispatchers didn't believe them," Just said.

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