Roads snarled in Midwest storm


Highways were treacherous for holiday travelers today in the upper Midwest in the aftermath of a blustery snowstorm that blacked out thousands of homes and businesses and snarled air travel.

At least 11 deaths were blamed on the weekend-long storm, which led to multi-car pileups that closed parts of several major highways on the Plains.

Strong wind blew snow into whiteout conditions during the weekend, but conditions had eased today.

That wouldn't necessarily mean safer roads, authorities cautioned.

"The roads aren't quite as ice-covered but we're still telling people not to drive unless they have to," Sgt. Tim Elve of the Dane County Sheriff's Office said early today. "The interstate is still slick and the rural roads are really bad."

Authorities had issued urgent pleas for travelers to stay home Sunday but officials worried that people would insist on driving Monday, regardless of the weather, to get to Christmas Eve destinations.

"I know it's the holidays but we hope people use some common sense when traveling," said Sgt. Chad Breuer of the Grant County Sheriff's Department in southwest Wisconsin. "There are a lot of people saying, 'I'll just leave that much earlier' but still, the roads are not favorable for traveling."

The storm rolled through Colorado and Wyoming on Friday, then spread snow and ice on Saturday from the Texas Panhandle to Wisconsin. On Sunday, snow fell across much of Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota and parts of Michigan and Indiana.

Up to 6 inches of snow fell on western Michigan, and freezing drizzle glazed some highways Monday morning in counties along Lake Michigan. The area of Madison, Wis., got three to four hours of freezing rain early Sunday, making driving treacherous.

The storm system had blown out to sea this morning, but in its wake wind blowing at 25 mph picked up moisture from Lake Erie to create lake-effect snow in Buffalo, N.Y. Five to 10 inches of snow was possible there and in other parts of western New York by Tuesday morning, the weather service said.

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