A powerful spring storm system was blamed for the deaths of at least three people across the Midwest on Saturday as blizzard conditions blanketed much of the Northern Plains.
The storm system dumped heavy snow on parts of the upper Midwest and is also being blamed for the deaths of a 2-year-old girl in Louisiana, a Wisconsin woman, and a 61-year-old Idaho truck driver who was involved in a crash in Nebraska.
The storm is expected to last throughout the weekend. National Weather Service meteorologist Jake Beitlich said a storm this large is not unprecedented for April in the Midwest, but this one is particularly powerful.
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Blizzard warnings stretched from northern Kansas across most of Nebraska and South Dakota into southwestern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa, with winter storm warnings and watches covering most of the rest of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Heavy snow already blanketed parts of western Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota by early afternoon Friday, closing major highways in South Dakota and many roads and highways in western Nebraska — including a 200-mile stretch of cross-country thoroughfare Interstate 80 from North Platte west to the Wyoming border.
Snow, freezing rain and high winds were expected through Saturday night, with heavy ice accumulations in parts of Michigan through Sunday morning.
A swath of southern Minnesota, including Minneapolis though northern Wisconsin, was expected to get 8 to 12 inches of snow or more. Parts of northern Nebraska could get up to 18 inches, with up to 12 inches in northwestern Iowa. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph will likely make travel hazardous.