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Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota hit with heavy snow

| Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, 6:14 p.m.
Adam Womersley and his English springer spaniel, Stella, walk in the snow on Sunday in Minneapolis. A major winter storm is expected to dump 9 to 15 inches across a broad belt of central Minnesota including the Twin Cities area by Sunday night, and the storm was to bring heavy snow to parts of western Wisconsin. (AP /The Star Tribune/ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS)

MINNEAPOLIS — A major winter storm was expected to dump 9 to 15 inches across a broad belt of central Minnesota including the Twin Cities area by Sunday night, and the storm was to bring heavy snow to parts of western Wisconsin.

A blizzard warning was out for much of eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota, while a winter storm warning was out for much of central and eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The National Weather Service reported 15.5 inches at Sacred Heart and 12 inches in Montevideo in southwestern Minnesota and more than 8 inches in Aberdeen, S.D., by late morning. Reports of 5 to 8 inches were common across the Twin Cities area around midday.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported difficult driving conditions across much of the southern two-thirds of the state, with no travel advised in the Willmar area of west-central Minnesota. MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the agency pulled its plows off the roads in the Granite Falls, Madison, Marshall and Montevideo areas of southwestern Minnesota until conditions improve.

Kandiyohi County Deputy Todd Neumann said plows were having difficulty keeping up with the snow.

“Snow, snow and more snow,” Neumann said.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported about 300 crashes statewide from Saturday night through noon Sunday, with more than 30 involving injuries, but no fatalities. Lt. Eric Roeske reported more than 300 spinouts or vehicles off the road.

Minneapolis, St. Paul, several suburban communities and St. Cloud declared snow emergencies, meaning parking restrictions will be in effect until the streets are plowed.

More than 150 flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were canceled due to the storm, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said. Delta Air Lines, the airport's main carrier, said travelers through the Twin Cities and Duluth could rebook their flights without charge. The Federal Aviation Administration said the snow was delaying some flights by an average of about 90 minutes.

The Metrodome looked only about three-quarters full at kickoff for the sold-out Bears-Vikings game, as the drive into downtown Minneapolis clearly took longer than usual for many of the fans. They continued to stream in late, with beads of melting snow apparent on everyone's jackets.

In South Dakota, officials closed Interstate 90 between Chamberlain and Sioux Falls and Intestate 29 from Sioux Falls to Sisseton because of blizzard conditions. Greg Fuller, director of operations for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, said travel would “continue to be a challenge, and patience is part of making safe choices.”

The National Weather Service said that as of Sunday morning, Aberdeen had received 8.3 inches of snow and Sisseton in far northeastern South Dakota had 5.5 inches.

Shelly Anderson at the Coffee Cup truck stop on Interstate 29 near Summit, S.D., said some truckers and other travelers waited out the storm there, but for the most part motorists stayed off the roads Saturday night and Sunday morning.

In New Mexico, northern and center parts of the state have been struck by an arctic front, bringing in freezing temperatures and heavy snow.

The Department of Transportation reported Sunday heavy snow around Chama and Tierra Amarilla. Officials say heavy snow along Interstate 25 from Glorieta Pass to the Colorado border also forced some motorists off the road.

The National Weather service reports a winter storm warning remains in effect for parts of New Mexico until early Monday.

Temperatures in some areas are expected to drop in the low teens.

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