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Minnesota Weather: Roads Closed Out West, Hundreds Of Downed Power Lines

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A thunderous April storm continues to slam Minnesota with a mix of snow, sleet, hail and strong winds, making travel hazardous across the state and prompting hundreds of schools to close.

RELATED: School Closings Page

The massive storm system blew into the state Wednesday, with a band of heavy snow lashing southern Minnesota. The snow fell through the evening and overnight hours, covering roads and leading to more than 800 crashes. Some communities in southern Minnesota, such as New Ulm, saw 10 inches of snow accumulate by early Thursday morning.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says roads across the southern half of the state are completely caked in snow. Moreover, in western Minnesota, where a blizzard warning is in effect until Friday, travel is not advised. Indeed, the State Patrol says state highways are closed in Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Redwood, Pipestone, and Yellow Medicine counties.

Strong winds, with gusts greater than 50 mph, knocked over trees and snapped hundreds of power lines across southern Minnesota, causing outages. Xcel Energy says its crews are working to restore power to communities as quickly as possible. (Those experiencing outages are encouraged to report them here.)

In the Twin Cities, the heavy snowfall lightened ahead of the Thursday morning commute. Still, roads were covered with snow, causing Metro Transit bus delays and numerous accidents. Among the crashes were at least three semi spin-outs that led to closures on eastbound Interstate 94, northbound Interstate 694 and northbound Highway 52.

RELATED: Eastbound I-94 Reopened Hours After Semi Crash

Meteorologist Matt Brickman says the metro, which is under a winter storm warning until Friday, won't likely see much more snow Thursday morning, but there is a chance of sleet and freezing rain through the day.

That's not the case for southwestern and west-central Minnesota.

Another band of heavy snow swirled over the area Thursday morning, producing thundersnow and even hail, a testament to the strength of this mid-April storm. Around 9 a.m., a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for parts of Redwood and Renville counties, threatening quarter-sized hail and 55 mph wind gusts.

Snow is expected to continue in southwestern Minnesota through Friday. By the time the system pushes out of the state, snow accumulations in southwestern Minnesota could top 20 inches.

For north-central Minnesota, in areas like St. Cloud and Brainerd, heavy snow is expected to fall through Thursday. Accumulations up to 10 inches are possible.

How long with this April snow last? Well, the weekend forecast looks to bring clouds and below-average temperatures, with highs in the 40s. As such, don't expect this snow to melt too quickly.

The next chance for temperatures to climb into the 50s won't be until next week.

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