Roads, schools close as blizzard sweeps latest arctic blast into Minnesota

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Winds howling up to 60 miles per hour whipped up fresh snow Sunday, closing highways in western and southern Minnesota and causing hundreds of school closings amid a new round of bone-chilling cold.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the State Patrol closed highways including Interstate 94 between Moorhead and Alexandria. Portions of U.S. Highways 10 and 210 were also closed Sunday, WCCO reports.

By evening, snow plows were coming off the roads because of hazardous conditions and road closings included Interstate 90 from Albert Lea west into South Dakota, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.

Tow trucks were still operating, however, and were overwhelmed with calls from motorists stranded in ditches, according to KAAL. As the Pioneer Press reports, MnDot was advising no unnecessary travel across the state.

In his Star Tribune blog, Meteorologist Paul Douglas writes that a flat tire in open country could be life-threatening in these conditions.

MnDot's latest information on road conditions is available here. Be forewarned, though, that it's chock full of dangerous or closed roads.

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The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning through Sunday night and warns that wind chills will remain dangerous through midday Tuesday. Monday morning's temperatures will be in the range of 15 to 25 below zero, the Weather Service says, with wind chill readings 35 to 50 below.

School closings are widespread. Districts in Rochester, Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul are among those that have cancelled classes. KSTP has a list of closings here.

The Star Tribune reports Minneapolis is planning to extend the hours at recreation centers on Monday and possibly Tuesday.

The University of Minnesota also cancelled day and evening classes Monday

Meanwhile, a weekend pipeline explosion in southern Manitoba has Xcel Energy urging customers to conserve natural gas. Three lines that serve 100,000 customers in northern Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin were knocked out of commission by the explosion.

Xcel asked customers in the affected area to set their thermostats to 60 degrees and avoid using gas-powered appliances. Cities in the affected area include Fargo-Moorhead, Grand Forks, and Brainerd, Xcel says.

Forecasters say Wednesday should bring some relief from the cold, with highs reaching the mid-20's in the Twin Cities. Paul Douglas writes that this month may go down as Minnesota's coldest January in 20 years.KMSP-TV

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