Heavy snow, strong winds pound SE Minnesota, Iowa, Wis.

10:08 PM, Dec 20, 2012   |    comments
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ROCHESTER, Minn. - Heavy snow and strong winds are complicating travel in far southeastern Minnesota.

Winds were gusting up to 39 mph in Rochester at 4 p.m. Thursday.

The National Weather Service says 7 inches of snow had fallen on Rochester as of noon, while Mantorville had 7.5 inches as of 12:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service is predicting 5 to 10 inches of snow across southeastern Minnesota as a winter storm pushes across the Midwest.

Southbound Interstate 35 was closed from Albert Lea to the Iowa border because of crashes in Iowa.

Roy Savage of Missoula, Mont., is among truck drivers waiting out the storm at an Albert Lea truck stop. Savage says when the winds are this strong and conditions unsafe, "it's definitely best to pull over and wait it out."

The Iowa DOT continues to warn drivers to stay off the roads because of snow blowing and drifts caused by a major overnight storm. At least a foot of snow is expected in some areas of the state. 

The same winter storm has left thousands of Wisconsin residents without power and caused at least two major rollover crashes in Dane County.

State emergency officials say the storm has cut power to about 2,300 Madison Gas & Electric customers in the Madison area; nearly 1,900 Alliant Energy customers through south-central and southwestern Wisconsin; about 450 We Energies customers in the Oshkosh area; and nearly 3,000 Wisconsin Public Service Corporation customers in the Manitowoc and Two Rivers areas.

State officials say all the utilities are working to restore power.

Wisconsin State Patrol officials report a semi-trailer jackknifed on Interstate 39/90 near Stoughton. Another semi-trailer rolled over on I-90 near DeForest and Waunakee. The State Patrol says both accidents caused back-ups but have been cleared.

Click on the links below for current driving conditions.

In Minnesota: http://www.511mn.org/

In Wisconsin: http://www.511wi.gov/web/map.aspx

In Iowa: http://www.iowadot.gov/

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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