The heavy snow and blizzard conditions that slammed the Upper Midwest will ease Friday and move into Canada, but that offered little consolation to thousands still without electricity or digging out from as much as two feet of snow.
More than 75,000 customers were without power at one point from Colorado to Michigan, with some 14,000 still without electricity Friday morning in Minnesota, according to poweroutageus.com.
In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem ordered government offices in all 54 counties closed as the storm hit the state Thursday. Even Ellsworth Air Force Base, just north of Rapid City, was shut down for all but essential personnel.
On Friday morning, the National Weather Service said the worst of the storm was over, but gusty winds and falling snow remained a concern, creating blizzard conditions in portions of the Dakotas and western Minnesota.
“Additional snowfall after sunrise (Friday) will be greatest across northeastern Minnesota where an additional 2-4 inches is expected,” the weather service said.
At one point at the height of the storm, Pueblo West, Colorado, recorded a wind gust of 107 mph, according to AccuWeather. The greatest snow total from the storm was the 25 inches that fell near Norbeck, South Dakota, the Weather Prediction Center reported.
Minnesota appeared to be the hardest hit by the spring blizzard, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to activate the National Guard to help with stranded motorists and flooding.
Over one nine-hour-period, the Minnesota State patrol registered 167 crashes statewide, even as state officials advised motorists to stay off the highways.
According to FlightAware.com, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and Denver International Airport combined had 1,530 flight cancellations over a two-day period, with Minneapolis accounting for the bulk of them.
Even the baseball season home opener between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers Friday night in the Twin Cities was postponed.
In one odd twist, some Minnesota residents reported a tan, or orange tint to the snow, which the National Weather Service said was most likely due to dust blown in by high winds from West Texas.
At least two weather-related fatalities were registered in the hardest hit areas, one involving a collision between a snow plow and a pickup truck near Denver International Airport, KUSA-TV reported, and a head-on crash in Pine County in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune.
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