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Upper Midwest ice, snow cause crashes, 1 dead

An arctic airmass was expected to continue chilling the central portion of the country Thursday, a day after snow and ice that caused one deadly traffic accident and dozens of fender benders.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An arctic airmass was expected to continue chilling the central portion of the country Thursday, a day after snow and ice that caused one deadly traffic accident and others that left drivers and passengers injured.

The anticipated cold temperatures have prompted freeze warnings and frost advisories from eastern Colorado through western Pennsylvania. Snow was expected in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and parts of the upper Midwest.

North Dakota on Wednesday saw just enough snow to make roads icy. Authorities say the conditions led to crashes that killed one man and injured others.

Most of the crashes happened between 5 a.m., and 8 a.m., Wednesday, said Capt. Kevin Robson, of the Highway Patrol's Grand Forks office.

"The road was wet all through the night and then it was slick," Robson said. Conditions improved by afternoon.

An Emerado man driving a sport utility vehicle was killed when he lost control of it on U.S. 2, the patrol said. The vehicle overturned and the man, whose name was not immediately released, was thrown from it and then struck by an oncoming car, the patrol said. Two others in the SUV were treated and released.

A semi driver traveling west on U.S. 2 lost control of the semi about 5 a.m., and it rolled over, the patrol said. The driver was treated and released and a passenger suffered leg injuries.

Among other mishaps: A pickup driver was injured on Interstate 29 just outside Grand Forks when the pickup began to fishtail and came to rest on a bridge guardrail, and two men were injured when they lost control of an SUV, the patrol said.

"The first couple of snow events and poor road conditions kind of catch people off guard," Robson said. "The general trend of all these conditions is that people were driving faster than they should be on an icy highway."

An automated deicing system on a Red River bridge between Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., failed Wednesday ahead of a seven-vehicle crash, authorities said. No one was seriously hurt.

Snow and ice were factors, along with speed, authorities said.

It was a year ago this month that a major storm it southwestern North Dakota, dropping up to 2 feet of snow in some areas, knocking out power to thousands of people and sending National Guard soldiers to help rescue stranded drivers.

Wednesday's snowfall amounts, with highs temperatures in the 30s, totaled less than an inch around the state. Bottineau reported the most with about half an inch, said meteorologist Rich Leblang, at the National Weather Service office in Bismarck.

"These are just scattered snow showers," Leblang said late Wednesday. "But tomorrow will be windy again and with that very cold air this time of year — I wouldn't be surprised if we could pop a few more afternoon snow showers."

Ready in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, the season's first snowfall only drew laughs at a nightspot in the heart of the Lake Superior snow belt.

By Wednesday night, a few inches had fallen at Saxon in Iron County, although everyone knew the forecast showed another half a foot or more could be on the way.

"Oh yeah, it's snowing," Doug Anderson said from the Bear Trap Inn. "Summer up here is just three weeks of bad sledding."

Anderson, 45, a logger, said the bar and restaurant is about five miles from the shore of Lake Superior, so people are used to big snows.

"We're going to have snow probably right until July," he joked. "I work in the woods so I don't care."

Heavy snow was predicted for the snow-belt areas near the Lake Superior shore — the region where cold air from the northwest goes over the warmer lake water and picks up moisture, then deposits it as snow when it reaches the colder land surface.

Dean Melde, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, Minn., said the forecast called for 6 to 9 inches of snow to accumulate in Ashland and Iron counties and 3 to 7 inches in Bayfield County through Thursday.

Some light snow showers and flurries were reported in other parts of northern Wisconsin, while much of the south got rain before temperatures dropped below freezing across the state overnight.

The forecast called for windy, cold conditions Thursday, with snow likely in the far northwest and highs from the mid 30s in the north to the low 40s in the south.

The weather service said milder weather would gradually return and raise high readings Sunday to the mid 40s in the north and upper 50s in the south.