A winter storm moving through North Dakota brought heavy snow, which was welcome for drought-stricken ranchers but a nuisance for travelers.
The National Weather Service in Bismarck had reports early Wednesday of 6- and 8-inch snow drifts in west central North Dakota, said meteorologist Bill Abeling. A heavy snow warning was in effect for northwestern and central North Dakota, with up to 8 inches of snow expected by Thursday.
Joe Anderson, a truck driver who was pulled over in Dickinson on Wednesday, said driving on Interstate 94 between Mandan and Dickinson was treacherous.
"Basically it's blizzardlike conditions," he said. "I'm having to stop about every 10 miles and knock the ice off the windshield wipers to keep up."
Major routes in the state, including Interstates 94 and 29 and U.S. Highways 2, 52 and 83, were snow- or ice-covered in many areas, the state Transportation Department said.
Wade Moser, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, said ranchers were glad to see snow.
"Timingwise, for calving, it's difficult, but I think most ranchers are prepared and ready. You just have to put in a few hours of sleepless nights and make it work," Moser said. "But we do need the moisture."
The weather service said up to 5 inches of snow was expected in southwestern North Dakota on Wednesday. Abeling said up to a foot of snow was expected in the region from Minot to Jamestown by Thursday night.
In eastern North Dakota, which was under a winter storm warning through Friday afternoon, up to 1 1/2 feet of snow was expected by the weekend. With strong winds on Friday, near-blizzard conditions were expected in open country, forecasters said.
"We expect it to be a lingering storm, all of today and into tomorrow, with more snow on Friday," weather service meteorologist Len Peterson said.
In Minnesota, as much as a foot of snow was expected to fall over the next few days, just a week after a storm dumped more than a foot in some regions.
The National Weather Service on Tuesday upgraded winter storm watches to storm warnings across much of the state, as well as west-central Wisconsin. In the Twin Cities metropolitan area, state highway crews were spreading deicing material on bridges, ramps and other ice-prone areas.
High winds out of the southeast Wednesday were expected to shift to the northeast Thursday, causing significant snow drifting, weather service meteorologist Tony Zaleski said. The drifting will be a particular problem for drivers traveling north and south, though the snow will be heavy because of temperatures around freezing.
Last Friday through Sunday, the Twin Cities got 9.1 inches of snow. Hewitt, about 40 miles west of Brainerd, had 17 inches, suburban Andover, 14.3, and Winona, in southeastern Minnesota, 28 inches.