Blizzard conditions close highways, schools in western Minnesota

Stranded vehicles along a snowy freeway
Stranded vehicles are seen amid blizzard conditions along Interstate 94 east of Moorhead, Minn., on Wednesday.
Minnesota State Patrol

Updated: 1 p.m.

Blizzard conditions led to highway and school closures in parts of western Minnesota on Wednesday morning.

Light snow and northerly winds gusting to nearly 50 mph were creating near-zero visibility at times.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said Interstate 94 between Fergus Falls and Moorhead reopened as of noon Wednesday, after being closed overnight and all morning.

As of 8 a.m. the Minnesota State Patrol reported stranded semis and other vehicles along I-94 east of Moorhead; some of them had been stuck there overnight, and first responders were working to rescue drivers.

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Gov. Tim Walz authorized the activation of the Minnesota National Guard to assist stranded motorists along the interstate.

Other highways had been closed between Crookston, East Grand Forks and Moorhead — but those were back open as of mid-morning Wednesday.

No-travel advisories that MnDOT had issued across a wide swath of southwest and west-central Minnesota also were dropped as mid-morning.

To the west, earlier freeway closures in North and South Dakota had all been lifted as of 1 p.m.

Gusty northwest winds sent temperatures plunging across the region, with any lingering rain in eastern Minnesota set to change over to snow on Wednesday morning.

And wet freeways in the Twin Cities will change over to icy conditions through the day. Temperatures in the metro area were forecast to drop from the mid-30s early Wednesday into the 20s by afternoon.

School closures

The blizzard conditions prompted some schools and colleges in western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota to cancel or delay classes Wednesday.

Minnesota State Moorhead and North Dakota State University canceled classes Wednesday, as did the Fargo and Fergus Falls school districts.

The Moorhead and Wadena-Deer Creek school districts were among those moving to online learning.

And among schools starting classes late on Wednesday morning were Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Fosston, Ortonville and Park Rapids — along with the University of Minnesota Crookston and all Minnesota State Community and Technical College campuses.

There were no widespread closures or delays reported in the Twin Cities. Check with your local district for updates.

Light snow covers a freeway at night
Light snow and winds gusting to near 50 mph made travel difficult or impossible in parts of western Minnesota on Wednesday. A stretch of Interstate 94 — including in this location near Moorhead, Minn. — was closed early Wednesday.
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Power outages

Utilities around Minnesota reported several thousand homes and businesses without power as of 9:50 a.m. Wednesday.

Xcel Energy reported about 2,200 customers without power in its Minnesota service area as of 9:50 a.m. Most of those were in the Twin Cities; it wasn’t clear how many of those were related to increasingly gusty winds in the region.

Otter Tail Power Co. and Agralite Electric Cooperative in western Minnesota each were reporting several hundred customers without power Wednesday morning.

Here’s how to keep tabs on forecasts, travel conditions and flight updates.

Forecast updates

Travel conditions

These state transportation departments offer live updates on road conditions and crashes:

For bus and light rail riders in the Twin Cities, Metro Transit offers weather-related updates on its Metro Transit and Metro Transit Alerts Twitter pages, as well as on its website.

Flight updates

If you’re planning to fly from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or another airport around the region — or if you are expecting visitors to arrive by plane — airports offer flight status updates online:

Trail conditions

While a winter storm can cause trouble for travelers, it can be welcome news for skiers, snowmobilers and other winter activity enthusiasts.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers updates on cross-country ski and snowmobile trail conditions at state parks and along state trails around Minnesota.

The Minnesota Ski Areas Association posts updates on snow conditions at downhill ski and snowboard areas around the state.

The Loppet Foundation posts updates on cross-country ski trail conditions in Minneapolis.

SkinnySki.com shares cross-country ski trail updates from across the state.