More snow and high winds are expected throughout the day Thursday in much of Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says you should stay off the road unless absolutely necessary as winter storm and blizzard warnings continue.
The National Weather Service called this a "life threatening" blizzard in Wisconsin and Iowa, with as much of 16 inches of snow possible. What makes this snowstorm so dangerous is the winds that have dramatically reduced visibility on many roads.
So far, officials have closed Interstate 35 between Albert Lea and the Iowa border, and officials say driving conditions in Wisconsin are deteriorating quickly. The roads are expected to remain treacherous over the next two days, and WisDOT urges drivers to cancel or delay travel.
Snow is still falling across north central Wisconsin, and strengthening wind gusts are upping the risk of white-out conditions and drifting on the following east-west corridors:
Conditions on Interstate 38 and Highway 51 in Marquette County and Iron county are variable, but much of the road remains snow-covered and slippery.
The Northwest Region Wisconsin State Patrol has responded to about a dozen runs offs and crashes, primarily from the Eau Claire area and south.
The Iowa DOT and Iowa State Patrol are reporting numerous traffic crashes, jack-knifed vehicles and semi-tractor trailers unable to climb steep inclines that are blocking roads throughout the state.
The Iowa State Patrol responded to a 25-vehicle crash Thursday that killed one person. The crash happened at the 150 mile marker along the southbound lanes of Interstate 35. Preliminary information indicates that due to near zero visibility, drivers were unable to see vehicles that had either slowed or stopped on the Interstate, causing a chain reaction of crashes.
"It's time to listen to warnings and get off the road," Iowa State Patrol Col. David Garrison said. "Iowa's highways and interstates remain in poor condition for travel. Troopers will continue to assist motorists who become stranded in this dangerous weather. But your safest bet is to avoid travel altogether. If you don't travel, you can't become stranded."
If you must travel in Wisconsin, check winter road conditions before leaving home by calling 5-1-1 or visiting 511wi.gov. Simply following a few simple driving habits could ensure that travelers will make it to their destination safely:
- Plan ahead
- Drive at a safe and legal speed for conditions (The 55 or 65 mph speed limit is a maximum speed for times when conditions are good/ideal, not for when roads are slippery and visibility is reduced.)
- Always wear seatbelts
- Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows
- Do not use cruise control in wintry conditions
- Keep a cell phone and charger with you
EARLY THURSDAY SNOW TOTALS (7:30 A.M.)
Peterson, MN 3 in.
Fayette, IA 8 in.
Friendship, WI 5.8 in.
La Crescent, MN 3.4 in.
Alma Center, WI 9 in.
Monona, IA 8 in.
Rochester, MN 5 in.
Four Corners, WI 5 in.
Sparta, WI 3.5 in.
Claremont, MN 4.3 in.
West Salem, WI 4 in