Much of the upper Midwest braced for frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall Sunday as the National Weather Service warned of blizzard conditions spanning parts of eight states.
The heavy storm was moving eastward a day after it dumped 20 inches of snow in parts of the region, forcing numerous road closures and even postponing for a day an NFL football game when the New York Giants were unable to get to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Vikings.
A blizzard warning was in effect Sunday for Chicago and much of northern Illinois, all of Iowa, large sections of southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and smaller areas in North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. Most of the rest of the region was under a winter storm warning or a hard freeze watch. Wisconsin authorities issued a statewide no-travel advisory Saturday, 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 had 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.
Stevens slept inside a tent surrounded by hay bales, swaddled in a double-insulated sleeping bag as he listened to the winds whip off Lake Minnetonka a block away.
There was a bustling lunch crowd Saturday in the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. Collette Dennis, a baker there, was back inside after she and co-workers spent 20 futile minutes trying to free her parked car from a snowdrift. Dennis still hoped to figure out a way to get home to the suburb of Roseville, about 12 miles away — but she also was prepared to stay put.
The cafe had no cots, Dennis said, “but we have multiple bags of flour I could sleep on. And I guess at least I won’t go hungry.”
The sinking temperatures were considered even more treacherous than the snow in some places. North Dakota experienced wind chills of 20 degrees below zero Saturday, and the arctic air was expected to drop temperatures below zero by Sunday night throughout the Dakotas and in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Eastern Minnesota’s Oakdale area got 20 inches of snow Saturday, 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 Sunday morning in the Eau Claire area.
Lisa McGrath was shoveling her front walk in southeast Minneapolis, but knew she’d likely have to do it again in a few hours.
“It’s good exercise — the only exercise I’m going to get today,” McGrath said as she hoisted the shovel. The State Patrol said 76 crashes were reported statewide, but none with fatalities or serious injuries, and there were 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.”
The weather also postponed until Monday an NFL football game that had been set for Sunday between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. The Giants were stuck Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo., after their flight was diverted there with the Twin Cities airport closed because of the snowstorm.
Associated Press writers Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Jeff Baenen in Plymouth, Minn., contributed to this report.
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