Dangerous Travel Along I-94 as Snowstorm Continues in the Upper Midwest

By Michael Doll, Meteorologist
December 4, 2013; 8:32 PM ET
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A pair of storms unleashed heavy snow and strong winds causing poor visibility from the northern Plains and Upper Midwest to the southern Rockies throughout the day and into the evening on Wednesday.

Dangerous cold and treacherous travel conditions also spread across the region.

The worst of the snow of the day occurred Wednesday morning and afternoon in North and South Dakota, but as the storm moved eastward Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin, part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and neighboring Canada were also slammed.

Into Thursday morning, there could bring more serious troubles from Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Northern Plains, Upper Midwest

Snowfall amounts of 6 to 22 inches fell in parts of northern Minnesota, including the Duluth, Minn., area on Monday into Monday night, and another 6 to 12 inches accumulated through Wednesday from northern Minnesota to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

By the time the storm exits early Thursday morning, storm totals will range from 1 to 3 feet over a large part of the Upper Midwest.

As of early Thursday morning, Two Harbors, Minn., received 33.2 inches of snow since Monday, with 23.3 inches in Duluth, Minn.

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Wind-driven snow shut down or slowed travel Wednesday along portions of I-94, I-29 and I-35, as many tried to go about their daily routines. Multiple accidents also occurred due to slippery and snowy road conditions throughout the day.

Minneapolis picked up around a half an inch on Monday, and another 4.1 inches fell on Wednesday.

The snow combined with plunging temperatures made for extremely slippery and dangerous travel.

Wind gusts of 25 to 40 mph created blowing and drifting, making for poor driving visibility, making daily commutes extremely hard over portions of the North Central states.

As of Wednesday morning, the Nebraska Department of Roads urged travelers to exercise caution and extreme caution on most major roadways, including I-80. More than 14 inches of snow had already fallen in Cherry County, Neb., resulting in drifts as high 3 feet, according to a trained spotter.

On parts of I-90 near Rapid City, S.D., the Department of Transportation also advised no travel, reporting visibility near zero with slippery roadways, scattered snow drifts and blowing snow.

Two accidents had already occurred as of Wednesday morning on SD-47 and on I-29, resulting in stopped traffic.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported difficult driving conditions on multiple highways due to snow-covered and slippery roads around Minneapolis. These hazardous roads included US-10 and I-94 in both directions, as well as a portion of the MN-15.

A crash also occurred on I-90 westbound between MN 91 and exit 33 during the late afternoon hours, causing slow traffic. At the time of the crash driving conditions were classified as difficult due to packed snow on the roadway.

Air travel was also impacted as FlightStats reported excessive delays at Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul airports Wednesday afternoon.

AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures will become dangerously low during and after the storm, plummeting to between 30 to 40 below zero on Wednesday night through Thursday night.

Rockies

Snow that fell over the northern Rockies to start the week pushed southward Wednesday and focused on Colorado and the mountains in northern Arizona.

Earlier in the week, the Wyoming Department of Transportation closed sections of I-80 and I-90.

Up to 15 inches of snow fell over the northern Rockies Monday into Tuesday. A foot of snow had already blanketed portions of Colorado Tuesday night into early Wednesday before Wednesday's snow even began.

Snow fell across much of I-80 from Nevada to northern Utah as well Tuesday into Tuesday night. Accumulating snow reached Reno, Nev., and Salt Lake City.

While Denver did not receive a heavy amount of snow, the combination of moderate snow, plunging temperatures and wind made for very slippery travel and dangerous outdoor conditions to be outdoors for an extended period of time.

Winds through some of the passes could gust above 30 mph at times, creating blowing and drifting, even where the snow has come to an end.

Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed content to this story.

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