MINNEAPOLIS — A powerful snowstorm socked the upper Midwest on Saturday with as much as 20 inches of snow, forcing authorities to close state roads across five states as heavy winds made for treacherous driving conditions.
The storm started Friday in the Rocky Mountains and swept into northern Nebraska and Iowa. By Saturday morning, the blizzard hit eastern South Dakota, northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota.
Eastern Minnesota's Oakdale area got 20 inches of snow as of Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. The storm was moving eastward, where it dumped about a foot of snow in Chippewa County in northwestern Wisconsin and was expected to drop 20 to 24 inches by this morning in the Eau Claire area.
The State Patrol said there were 76 crashes reported statewide, but none with fatalities or serious injuries, and 319 reports of vehicles sliding off roads.
"The areas that were hardest hit are virtually impassable," said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. "So we don't expect those numbers to go up a whole lot."
With the snow and winds combining to make visibility difficult for drivers, Minnesota transportation officials closed westbound Interstate 90 from the city of Albert Lea, south of Minneapolis to the South Dakota border, pulled plows off roads in the southern part of the state and told drivers to stay home.
The Twin Cities east metro area received 15 to 20 inches of snow by Saturday afternoon and was expected to see another 1 to 3 inches.
Heavy snow was falling in northern Iowa, where up to 10 inches was expected, and eastern South Dakota, where 5 to 8 inches were forecast. Portions of Interstates 29 and 76 were closed in Iowa and South Dakota because of blowing snow and related crashes.
Wisconsin authorities issued a statewide no-travel advisory, citing blizzard and winter storm warnings in nearly every county.
The weather was an unexpected burden for one Minnesota man who had pledged to camp out on the roof of a coffee shop to help his daughter's school raise money. Hospital executive Robert Stevens donned four layers of long underwear, heavy boots and a down coat before embarking on his quest Friday night.
He vowed not to come down until he raised $100,000, but after reaching the halfway mark Saturday morning, he said he hoped the rest of the money would come fast. He didn't look forward to spending another night out in the blizzard.
"I think I've crossed the line into insanity," he said.