MILWAUKEE — Heavy snow and gusting winds created blizzard-like conditions Monday across the Upper Midwest, prompting officials to close hundreds of schools, courthouses and businesses, and ground air travel.
Even snowplow drivers were having trouble keeping up with conditions. And forecasters warn that once the snowstorm is over, record cold is expected to settle into the region.
More than a foot (30.5 centimeters) of snow was expected to accumulate Monday in southeastern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. The largest public school districts in both states are among those closed, including districts in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Parts of southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin could see up to 14 inches (35.5 centimeters) of snow. The Minnesota State Patrol was responding to scores of spin outs and crashes early Monday in the Twin Cities metro area, even before the busiest commute time, because of snow-covered and icy roads.
"Plows are out across the state. Heavy snow overnight and blowing and drifting snow are making for some tough conditions," Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said.
In Wisconsin, plow drivers were having a difficult time keeping up with the snow in Sheboygan. Minutes after a plow passed, roads were once again becoming snow covered, according to the Department of Public Works.
But it's the plunging temperatures expected later this week that have forecasters especially concerned, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Tyler Hasenstein. Temperatures on Wednesday could fall to 30 degrees below zero, and could feel as cold as 60 below because of the wind chill.
"I think the proper term is nasty cold," Hasenstein told the Star Tribune. "We are very confident this cold is going to be significant. ... People are right to be concerned."
Courthouses and most offices were closed in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Columbia and Washington counties, while more than three dozen flights were canceled early Monday at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee County.
In eastern North Dakota, officials have issued travel alerts because of blowing snow.