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Blizzard hits Northern Plains, deep freeze next

Image: Interstate 93 pileup
These vehicles were among the 59 that crashed on an icy highway Sunday in Derry, N.H.Jan Seeger / Lawrence Eagle-Tribune via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A fast-moving blizzard brought snow and high winds to North Dakota on Monday, closing schools and causing more headaches for residents still trying to dig out from a record snowfall last month.

And, forecasters said a blast of cold air was on the way that could send the thermometer as low as 30 below zero.

Travel was discouraged in the central and western parts of North Dakota because of drifting snow, whipped up by high winds, made the visibility almost zero and left snow drifts on roadways. No injuries were reported.

The Minot area got 6 inches of snow, on top of about a foot late last week, while Bismarck picked up another 4 inches.

Wind gusts of around 60 mph were reported in southwestern North Dakota and 51 mph in Bismarck. Eastern Montana was rattled with gusts of up to 70 mph, meteorologist Bill Abeling said, but that area did not have as much snow.

Iowa gets blizzard warning
Strong winds blew through South Dakota, and snow was moving into northwest Iowa. A blizzard warning was posted in the Des Moines area from Monday night until early Tuesday.

The snow is to be followed by a blast of cold air, dropping temperatures to around 30 below zero in the eastern part of the state, forecasters said Monday. Wind chill factors could hit 47 below, they said.

"We'd like to figure out a way to send the bad weather back up north," Abeling said.

Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks all broke snow records for December, each with more than 30 inches.

The bitter cold that was stalking the upper Plains was expected to bring bone-chilling misery to the East by week's end.

Residents in the Atlanta area could see temperatures in the high teens by the end of the week, forecasters said. And in Maine, where overnight lows early Monday dipped to as much as 22 below, even colder weather was in the offing by Thursday.

Weekend storms
Meanwhile, residents of the Midwest and Northeast dug out after their own tussles with weekend storms.

Most residents in New England heeded the authorities' warnings to stay off roads after the storm dumped up to 9 inches of snow in some areas in Massachusetts and sleet and freezing rain across Rhode Island. Some communities declared snow emergencies to help cleanup crews plow streets.

In New Hampshire, three buses and two tractor-trailer rigs were among 59 vehicles that crashed on snowy Interstate 93, sending a dozen people to hospitals Sunday morning and temporarily shutting down a stretch of the highway's northbound lanes.

None of the injuries were life threatening, but it took emergency crews about an hour to remove one man from a car wedged under the back of a tractor trailer, Derry Fire Battalion Chief Jack Webb said.

Witnesses told WMUR-TV that a charter bus Boy Scouts from Massachusetts was at the front of the crash and was trying to avoid another car that had gone out of control. Another bus carrying the University of Massachusetts-Boston's women's hockey team also was involved. Some of the women held up a sign saying "We are OK" after the doors to the bus were blocked by crashed cars.

A car that slid on ice caused a 13-car pileup Sunday afternoon near Greenwich, Conn., sending two people to the hospital and closing the northbound side of Interstate 95 for two hours. Police said no serious injuries were reported.

A Maryland teen was killed Sunday when he lost control of his SUV on an icy road and ran into a telephone pole near Union Mills. Authorities in Michigan said a 49-year-old man died when his snowmobile collided with a snow plow Saturday in Dorr Township. Motorists also died Saturday in Illinois and Indiana.

Boon for Ohio ski resorts
The snow was a boon to Ohio ski resorts, which called it a stimulus package for their industry.

"We've been in business for 47 years and — this is what I can't believe — yesterday was by far the best gross sales day we've ever had," said George Shaffer, area manager of the Alpine Valley ski resort east of Cleveland in Geauga County, where 11 inches of snow fell.

A transportation department worker in Delaware suffered a broken leg Sunday when an SUV plowed through a section of highway near Wilmington that had been closed because of icy conditions.

The National Weather Service reported 8 inches of snow at Blissfield and Morenci in Michigan, and more than 6 inches of snow fell on Detroit. The service also issued a winter storm watch across Michigan for Monday night through Tuesday.

The Pacific Northwest remained on alert with three flooded rivers in Washington, where state officials were assessing the damage from heavy rain and melting snow on roads and property.

National Guard troops were deployed in Lewis County, which was one of the state's hardest hit counties by flooding, said Rob Harper, a spokesman for the state division of Emergency Management.

In Indiana, two men died Sunday after their snowmobiles fell through the ice covering a lake in Noble County. A third man boating on a different lake died. His body was found partially submerged.