BISMARCK, N.D. — A winter storm that moved across several Midwestern states Monday brought fierce winds and light snow that was easily blown around, leaving travelers stranded and closing some schools and businesses.
Heavy snowfall was not expected, but strong winds were blowing around what was falling — or had already fallen in the last several days — in the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, creating whiteout conditions in some places. Ice buildup on power lines also was a problem in some areas.
Crews in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa were continuing efforts to restore electricity to about 13,000 people, mostly in rural areas.
Conditions were so bad in North Dakota, that officials advised people not to travel at all. Portions of Interstate 94 were closed in the southern part of the state because of zero visibility and a multi-vehicle crash. Interstate 29 was closed between Grand Forks and the Canadian border and from Watertown, S.D., to the North Dakota border.
Iowa officials closed a nearly 80-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from Ames to Clear Lake after a pileup that the state Department of Public Safety said involved as many as 40 vehicles.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty activated the National Guard to help counties in southern and west-central Minnesota provide shelter and other services.
In southwest Minnesota, at least 100 students were hunkered down for the night at their high school because the blizzard made it too dangerous for them to travel home.
About 5,000 people in North Dakota, 5,400 in Iowa and about 200 in northeastern Nebraska remained without power. Outages were more severe in South Dakota, where about 7,900 people still had no electricity. More than 10,000 utility poles were believed to be down in the Dakotas and Iowa.