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Blizzard conditions hit parts of Upper Midwest

Associated Press

Minneapolis — Residents across the Upper Midwest got some of the winter they had so far missed on Tuesday, as snow and high winds made travel treacherous in some areas.

A blizzard warning was out for parts of Minnesota and South Dakota, where winds gusting up to 50 mph were expected to stir up the new of 2 to 6 inches of snowfall.

Meteorologist Jim Taggart with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minnesota, said the state has seen about half its usual snowfall this season. But the quick-hitting storm could be winter’s last blast for the region, said Minnesota Public Radio meteorologist Paul Huttner. Forecasts call for high temperatures above freezing this weekend and into next week.

Tough traveling

Authorities closed a slippery stretch of Interstate 94 in central Minnesota due to numerous accidents. The most serious involved a semi that hit a car whose driver had pulled over to change a tire, said State Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Tiffani Nielson. One person in the car was hurt.

Snow turned the morning commute in the Twin Cities into a slippery mess. The Patrol reported more than 100 crashes and over 20 vehicles that slid off roads or spun out. A state trooper’s squad car was struck and badly damaged on I-494 near Concord in South St. Paul, Minnesota, while that trooper was investigating a crash. Nielson said the trooper had to be extricated and was taken to a hospital the injury was not life-threatening.

One person died in a crash on Highway 41 in Brown County of northeastern Wisconsin. At least four school buses got stuck in traffic behind the crash scene.

The storm forced officials to temporarily close the Apostle Islands ice caves to tourists. Around 12,000 people have visited the ice caves along the south shore of Lake Superior since they opened over the weekend. But the National Park Service said high winds and blowing snow could make the ice leading to the caves unsafe. The earliest the caves will reopen is Thursday.

Prairie problems

Many schools from the eastern Dakotas to western Minnesota delayed classes or closed for the day. South Dakota’s Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist warned it would be “a dangerous spring storm.”

“I think all of the truck drivers have taken off,” said Jessica Martin, who works at the Crossroads Truck Stop in the eastern South Dakota town of Colman. “Just another day in South Dakota. We’re way ready for spring.”

Heavy snow and gusty winds also struck much of Wyoming, causing road closures and prompting transport officials to warn against all but essential travel across much of the state.

Icy roads were making travel treacherous in Iowa and Nebraska, leading to at least one fatal traffic accident in Omaha. Rain and freezing rain remained in the forecast for both states.

St. Patrick’s plea in Boston

Organizers of Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade say the event will go on as planned March 15, despite the 8½ feet of snow that has fallen on the city this winter — but they are asking for help in clearing the route.

Brian Mahoney, commander of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, is asking unions, businesses and residents to help shovel snow. He said it would be impossible to postpone the parade.

The city is just short of surpassing its 20-year-old snowfall record. Sunday’s snowfall brought the city’s total to 103.9 inches. It needs 3.7 inches more to break the 1995-1996 record of 107.6. Snow forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday could tip that total over the edge, according to Frank Nocera, a NWS meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Washington woes

The mid-Atlantic region braced for another shot of snow, sleet and freezing rain in time for the evening rush hour. A winter weather advisory was effect in the Baltimore and Washington areas.

The federal government in the Washington region was open, but workers were given the option of taking unscheduled leave or teleworking. Several school systems canceled evening events and a few closed early.

Snowy northern Arizona

Out West, a winter storm that dumped heavy snow on northern Arizona all but departed Tuesday, although weather officials warned of scattered rain. Many schools remained closed for a second day.

Further south in the state, meanwhile, the weather service said Phoenix recorded an average high of 77.5 degrees last month — it’s second warmest February on record.