Travel conditions remained hazardous as a winter storm swept across much of the northern Plains on Monday, with blowing and drifting snow forcing the closure of an airport and creating near-zero visibility on some roads.
The combination of freezing rain, snow and high winds that forced vast stretches of highways in the Dakotas to be shut down Sunday continued into Monday, and authorities issued no-travel warnings for much of North Dakota.
Meanwhile, in parts of the South, unseasonably warm temperatures was raising the risk of tornadoes and damaging thunderstorms. About 3 million people in parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee could see damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes Monday, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said, but no major outbreak is expected.
Most of North Dakota was to remain under a blizzard warning through Monday afternoon or early evening, according to the National Weather Service in Bismarck. Severe whiteout conditions led to the closure of Minot International Airport, and the facility wasn't expected to reopen until 3 a.m. Tuesday. The airports serving Fargo and Bismarck also list flight cancellations on their websites.
Winds gusting 40 mph to 50 mph associated also led to delays and cancellations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The storm also has caused power outages in the Dakotas and Nebraska.
The South Dakota Rural Electric Association said roughly 19,000 of its customers were without power Monday afternoon. In Nebraska, winds gusting up to 70 mph were cited for hundreds of power outages in central and eastern portions of the state Sunday, although by Monday morning, utilities reported that power had been restored to most customers.
The North Dakota Transportation Department closed most of a 240-mile stretch of Interstate 94 Sunday night, from the Montana border to Jamestown. That stretch remained closed Monday. Portions of U.S. Highways 2, 52 and 281 were also closed because of snow, ice and "near zero visibility." Motorists who drive past the roadblocks can be fined up to $250.
No-travel advisories were issued for much of North Dakota, including the Williston, Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Jamestown, Valley City and Grand Forks areas.
Authorities in South Dakota shut down Interstate 90 from the Wyoming border to Chamberlain — about 260 miles.