* High winds, deep drifts, low visibility in northwest North
* Parts of Minnesota bracing for up to a foot (30 cm) of
* Storm expected to span Chicago morning, evening rush hours
* Washington could get its biggest snowfall of the year
By David Bailey
MINNEAPOLIS, March 4 A blizzard roared into
North Dakota on Monday and was expected to dump up to a foot of
snow in neighboring Minnesota before moving east over the
mid-Atlantic states, where it could bury the Washington area
with its biggest snowfall of the winter, the National Weather
Blowing snow and drifts up to three feet (0.9 meter) left
parts of Montana and the northwest North Dakota oil region with
visibility at a quarter of mile (400 meters) under blizzard
conditions that were expected to last into Monday night, the
weather service said.
The North Dakota transportation department was recommending
"no travel" on roads across the northwestern part of the state
where there is a blizzard, stretching along the northern edge of
the state across to roads north of Grand Forks.
Up to 15 inches (38 cm) of snow was expected in northwestern
North Dakota and 9 inches (23 cm) in the Grand Forks area, on
the eastern border with Minnesota. But the state took the latest
storm in stride.
"It's a normal late winter storm for us," said Adam Jones, a
meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
The Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area was dusted by
an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) of snow on Monday from a separate
storm system, and up to 10 inches (25 cm) was expected from the
main winter storm, mostly overnight into Tuesday morning, the
weather service said.
The storm was expected to dump heavy snow along the
Minnesota and Wisconsin border, with up to a foot (30 cm) in the
far southeastern corner of Minnesota, before heading across
southern Wisconsin and into Illinois.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport had 107 flight
cancellations on Monday and O'Hare International Airport had 65,
TRAFFIC PILE-UPS IN COLORADO
Meanwhile, heavy snow and high winds were blamed for two
major traffic accidents in the Colorado mountains, near the ski
resort of Vail, involving more than 50 vehicles.
Three people were hospitalized from a 25-vehicle chain-
reaction crash that closed a stretch of Interstate 70, the
Summit County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "None of the
injuries were reported to be serious," the statement said.
A second pile-up about 17 miles (27 km) away on the same
interstate involved 29 vehicles, with no reported injuries, the
sheriff's office said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said several
portions of the interstate along the mountain corridor about 100
miles (160 km) west of Denver were closed for several hours on
Monday afternoon following the accidents. The highway was
reopened in both directions by 5:30 p.m. local time.
The snow was part of a fast-moving storm that swept through
Colorado, dumping up to foot of white stuff in the north-central
mountains, and dusting the ground in the Denver metropolitan
Overall, the storm was expected to stretch across North
Dakota, much of Minnesota, northern Iowa, western Wisconsin and
then into northern Illinois.
Northeastern Illinois, including Chicago, was forecast to
receive six to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) of snow overall, starting
late Monday and spanning the morning and more intensely the
evening rush hours.
The snow was expected to become more intense toward Tuesday
morning with the heaviest accumulations during the day on
Tuesday, the weather service said. The storm was forecast to
move east, reaching the Ohio Valley, the mid-Atlantic states and
the Washington area later on Tuesday and into Wednesday.
"This will be certainly the biggest snowstorm for the winter
in this area," said National Weather Service forecaster Bruce
Sullivan, who is in Maryland.
Forecasts suggested the system could dump eight to 14 inches
(20 to 36 cm) of snow over parts of Maryland, West Virginia,
Pennsylvania and Virginia, the National Weather Service said.
It will bring a cold, dry snow over the mountains of
Virginia and a heavy, wet snow east of Washington, he said.
One of the more challenging aspects is predicting how much
snow would fall on or east of heavily traveled Interstate 95 in
Virginia and Maryland, forecasters said.