Blizzard causes travel troubles in Dakotas, Minnesota

Published 01-01-2019

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - Heavy snowfall and gusty winds created blizzard-like conditions in parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota the day before the new year, causing officials to close an airport and to urge caution while driving.

Some sheriff's deputies had reported that falling snow combined with wind gusts of 40 mph was creating near zero visibility, but those conditions were not as widespread Monday afternoon as they were earlier in the day. Snow had ended across southeastern North Dakota and west central Minnesota by early Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

One person was killed in a crash Monday afternoon in North Dakota during whiteout conditions. Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind said the three-vehicle accident happened on Interstate 29 about 20 miles south of Fargo.

A truck and a van were traveling northbound in the right lane when another vehicle passed them, causing whiteout conditions. As the truck and van were slowing down, a semitrailer approached them from behind and struck the van, pushing it into the truck, the patrol said.

The van driver was killed, the patrol said.

Blizzard warnings for parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota expired, but dangerously cold wind chills as low as 45 degrees below zero were expected, the weather service said.

The Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota closed early Monday because of deteriorating weather conditions and airport officials told travelers to contact their airline to reschedule their flight. The airport said it plans to reopen by Tuesday morning.

In North Dakota, the Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol lifted no-travel advisories for parts of northeastern and southeastern North Dakota, including Valley City, Wahpeton, Fargo, Hillsboro and Lisbon. But a travel alert remained in effect for those areas because of reduced visibility.

The Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota closed early Monday because of deteriorating weather conditions and airport officials told travelers to contact their airline to reschedule their flight. The airport said it plans to reopen by Tuesday morning.

In North Dakota, the Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol lifted no-travel advisories for parts of northeastern and southeastern North Dakota, including Valley City, Wahpeton, Fargo, Hillsboro and Lisbon. But a travel alert remained in effect for those areas because of reduced visibility.

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