MINNEAPOLIS — A powerful snowstorm socked the upper Midwest on Saturday with as much as 20 inches of snow, forcing authorities to close roads across five states as heavy winds made for treacherous driving conditions.
The snowstorm was expected to be followed by dangerous cold. North Dakota experienced wind chills of 20 degrees below zero, and the arctic air was expected to drop temperatures below zero by Sunday night throughout the Dakotas and in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Eastern Minnesota's Oakdale area got 20 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service. The storm was moving eastward, where it dumped about a foot of snow in Chippewa County in northwestern Wisconsin and was expected to drop 20 to 24 inches by this morning in the Eau Claire area.
Lisa McGrath was shoveling her front walk in southeast Minneapolis, but knew she'd likely have to do it again in a few hours.
"It's good exercise — the only exercise I'm going to get today," McGrath said as she hoisted the shovel.
The State Patrol said there were 76 crashes reported statewide, but none with fatalities or serious injuries, and 319 reports of vehicles sliding off roads.
"The areas that were hardest hit are virtually impassable," said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. "So we don't expect those numbers to go up a whole lot."
With the snow and winds combining to make visibility difficult for drivers, Minnesota transportation officials closed the westbound portion of Interstate 90 near the South Dakota border, pulled plows off roads in the southern part of the state and told drivers to stay home.
The Twin Cities east metro area received 15 to 20 inches of snow and was expected to see another 1 to 3 inches before the storm tapered off there.
Heavy snow was falling in northern Iowa, where up to 10 inches was expected, and eastern South Dakota, where 5 to 8 inches was forecast. Portions of Interstates 29 and 76 were closed in Iowa and South Dakota because of blowing snow and related crashes.
Wisconsin authorities issued a statewide no-travel advisory, citing blizzard and winter storm warnings in nearly every county.
There was a bustling lunch crowd Saturday in the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. Collette Dennis, a baker there, was back inside after she and co-workers spent 20 futile minutes trying to free her parked car from a snowdrift.