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Blowing Snow, Cold, Blasts Upper Midwest

December 3, 1991

Undated (AP) _ High wind blew snow into blinding whiteout conditions Tuesday and drove wind chill factors to as low as 60 below zero across the northern Plains and upper Mississippi Valley, closing schools and shutting down some roads.

Visibility was so poor that a Minnesota state trooper was stuck in the city of Blue Earth, near the Iowa line, because he ″could not see the front of his car,″ said State Patrol Sgt. Michael Asleson.

Some Iowa schools sent children home early Tuesday, but some couldn’t organize dismissals fast enough to beat the blinding, blowing snow.

″I’m not sure we’ll get the country kids home at all,″ said Kurt Wiethorn, principal at Clarion Elementary in north-central Iowa.

″It’s a whiteout with terrific blowing snow. At 9:50 we decided to dismiss classes at 10, but by that time it was too bad to send the buses out,″ he said.

Wiethorn said students living in the country probably would stay in town.

″We’re prepared for this. Our students have emergency residences in town, so they’ll all have places to go. And people are calling the school to offer their homes in case we need them,″ he said.

Wind blowing at near 50 mph and new snow caused drifting and blowing snow that closed many roads in southern Minnesota, and created wind chills of 40 and 50 degrees below zero.

About 80 communities in southwestern and south-central Minnesota reported school closings Tuesday, said WCCO radio in Minneapolis, which routinely broadcasts school closing announcements for much of the region.

Overnight wind chills reached 40 below to 60 below zero across much of North Dakota and 35 below to 45 degrees below zero in southeastern South Dakota, the National Weather Service said. Wind chills dropped to 36 below zero by early afternoon in northeastern Iowa.

Blowing snow in southeastern South Dakota reduced visibility to less than a mile in the Yankton, Watertown and Sioux Falls areas. Classes were called off in several communities.

By midafternoon, Minot, N.D., had warmed only to 7 below zero, the official coldest spot in the Lower 48 states, the weather service said.

Snow fell from northwestern Montana across western South Dakota, eastern North Dakota, Minnesota and the upper Great Lakes into New England, the weather service said.

High wind in the wake of a cold front whipped up the snow, reducing visibility to near zero in some areas.

″The roads aren’t closed, but you can’t see to drive on them,″ said Wright County, Iowa, sheriff’s dispatcher Gail Schoo. She said snowplows were pulled off the roads.

To the south, water receded after flooding caused by heavy weekend rain in the southern Appalachians and the South but some roads and bridges remained closed by damage or high water. West Virginia authorities searched for a man missing after his car was found in a swollen creek.

Barricades were erected to keep travelers off several southern Minnesota roads as the wind-blown snow made the landscape all but disappear.

It’s already been a record-breaking season in parts of Minnesota. the Minneapolis-St. Paul area got 28.4 inches of snow on Halloween, and 14 inches this past weekend.

On the western South Dakota prairie, the cold and wind slowed the work of an Air Force crew pulling a Minuteman II missile from the first ICBM silo to be deactivated as part of the nation’s nuclear weapon reduction.

″You’ve got to take care so you don’t get frostbite,″ said Staff Sgt. Michael Rose, chief of the team handling the missile.

At the eastern end of the Great Lakes, 2 to 5 inches of wet snow cut electricity to some 14,000 customers in upstate New York, utilities reported.

Maine got its first major snowstorm of the season, closing schools in southern and central parts of the state. Up to 5 inches had accumulated by midafternoon.

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