Conditions improving after blizzard made travel nearly impossible in parts of Minnesota

Travel was nearly impossible in northwest, west-central, southwest and south-central Minnesota on Thursday night.
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blowing and drifting

That's a real snow drift from blowing snow west of Fargo, near Casselton, on Thursday. 

Thursday's blizzard created dangerous travel conditions all across western and southern Minnesota to the point that Governor Tim Walz enacted a peacetime state of emergency, sending National Guard troops to help rescue stranded drivers in Renville County. 

"The blizzard made for a very trying night and early morning for sure, but our deputies ended up being brought to where no squad car could go!" said the Renville County Sheriff's Office, thanking the local guard unit that brought a SUSV (Small Unit Support Vehicle) tracked vehicle to maneuver through "impassable" roads. 

SUSV tracked vehicle

SUSV tracked vehicle

"Two rescue missions were completed during the night, with 8 people being brought safely back to the armory in Olivia where they joined another 10 stranded motorists who had been brought there," the sheriff's office added. 

Many motorists were off the roads or stuck in drifts on the roads, which became more dangerous as wind chills dropped to 30-below-zero. 

Renville County, located about 100 miles west of the Twin Cities, pulled plows at noon Thursday as winds gusting to 45 mph reduced visibility to zero for extended stretches of roadway, and the county plows remained off the roads until 5 a.m. Friday.  

The sheriff's office posted video of the nasty white-out conditions to Facebook and warned motorists to stay off the roads if at all possible. 

This is what MnDOT's statewide road conditions map looked like at 11 p.m. Thursday. The red buttons in western Minnesota were closed roads, which have since re-opened, and the purple, represents areas that were in no travel advisories. 

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It got so bad around 7 p.m. that MnDOT and the Minnesota State Patrol shut down all state and federal roads in Big Stone, Grant, Pope, Stevens, Swift, Traverse and Wilkin counties. 

At 7:15 p.m., the Swift County Sheriff's Office notified the public that it would only attempt to help people in the event of an emergency due to its deputies getting stuck trying help stranded motorists. 

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"We have had both of our on duty deputies stuck themselves tonight trying to help others. At this time we will only be responding to emergencies. If you are stuck, please be prepared to stay in place until someone can get to you which may be several hours," the announcement said.

"This situation is an extreme emergency."

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, there were 562 crashes statewide in addition to 788 vehicle spinouts and 37 jackknifed semis from 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday. 

Travel conditions still aren't great across the state and as of 7 a.m. Friday there were still no travel advisories in parts of southwest and south-central Minnesota. Traveling should continue improving throughout the daya and you can stay up-to-date by checking road conditions with MnDOT right here

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