UPDATE: Driving conditions remain difficult to hazardous - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

UPDATE: Driving conditions remain difficult to hazardous

Posted: Updated:

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KXLT) -- MnDOT says driving conditions remain difficult due to hazardous across southeast Minnesota.

As of 5:10 p.m. Friday, Interstate 35 southbound from Owatonna to Albert Lea is closed. Its opening and other road updates will be posted on the MnDOT Southeast Twitter account: @mndotsoutheast.

MnDOT is advising no unnecessary travel in the region because of compacted snow and ice on roads.

The Minnesota State Patrol said 284 vehicles have gone off roads in southeast Minnesota since Thursday afternoon.

Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha said there were 49 property damage crashes and two injury crashes since the storm hit Thursday afternoon through Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Gov. Mark Dayton issued an emergency order on Friday that calls out the National Guard to help with recovery and sheltering of stranded motorists in central and southeastern Minnesota.

In addition to travel problems, the blizzard has left thousands in the dark. RPU said about 500 customers were still without power Friday afternoon. Restoration is expected to go into Saturday.

"More crews are back on now after working through the night. We are working as quick and as safe as possible. We know its an inconvenience," according to a Tweet Friday afternoon on RPU's Twitter account.

People's Energy Cooperative still has about 1,300 members without power. Outage restoration is expected to go into Saturday.

Tri-County Electric Cooperative recorded 33 power outages affecting 1,269 members mostly in the western portion of the co-op's service territory. Crews worked overnight as long as weather conditions permitted. All power was restored by 11:20 a.m. Friday.

In Elgin, the city has opened an emergency shelter at the PEM 7/8 School Building at 70 First Street S.E. for people without power.

KTTC/KXLT Meteorologist Ted Schmidt said drifting snow and whiteout conditions will be possible through early Friday night as gusts will only gradually diminish from the 30 mph range to the 20 mph range by midnight.

Schmidt said the weekend will feature cold sunshine with temperatures about 15 degrees colder than normal and a nagging west wind that will keep wind chill indices near zero, but not enough wind to cause any widespread blowing snow.


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