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Snow Buries Northern Plains

A snowstorm piled snowdrifts up to two feet high and closed schools Wednesday, and authorities urged people to stay off highways in the northern Red River Valley.

The city had 9 inches of snow by noon, a record for any date in October, the National Weather Service said.

A blizzard warning was posted as wind blew snowflakes at up to 35 mph and created a midmorning wind chill reading of 7 below zero, the National Weather Service said.

Grand Forks city and county offices, as well as the University of North Dakota, closed Wednesday afternoon. A number of schools closed in the county and more than 1,000 customers between Grand Forks and neighboring East Grand Forks, Minn., lost power.

The Highway Patrol advised no travel in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, an area the weather service said could get up to 10 inches of snow by the end of the day. Seven inches had fallen by midmorning.

"The plows have been out, but I tell you what, it's blowing so much out here that the roads - it's just like driving down a prairie trail. It's just very rough, it's rutted," Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Nelson said at midmorning. "It's near whiteout conditions at times."

Mike Connor said his commute to his job in Devils Lake took twice as long as the normal 25 minutes.

"Some of the east-west curves had drifts from 18 inches to more than 2 feet deep," Connor said.

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