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May snowstorm causes havoc across Upper Midwest

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Winter made an unwelcome return to the Upper Midwest today as a May snowstorm dumped over a foot of a snow to Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

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Tree branches and power lines have been snapping under the weight of up to 16 inches of snow that fell in northwest Wisconsin by late this morning. A truck driver in his 50's was killed when two semis collided while heading east on Interstate-94 near Menomonie - but officials did not immediately say whether the snow was to blame. The crash happened around one a.m. and the freeway was re-opened in time for the morning commuters.

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By late morning, Menomonie had reported 12 inches of snow over the last day-and-a-half. Ashland had the most, with 16.2. More than 14-inches have fallen at Hayward, Barron, Baldwin, Maiden Rock, and Spring Valley - and it was still coming down at last word. Ellsworth already had 14-inches by early this morning, and close to 11-inches fell near Hayward. The National Weather Service now says the heaviest snows will end up in parts of Ashland, Bayfield, Washburn, and Sawyer counties. And places to the south could get more than expected. Forecasters now say Buffalo County, northwest of La Crosse, could get up to 11-inches by the time the storm clears out late tonight. It's a heavy, wet snow in many places - which is conducive to power outages. Some parts of northwest Wisconsin have been getting much less snow. Eau Claire had five-inches, and Ogema in Price County had around three-inches. Xcel Energy reported over 18-thousand customers without power by late morning along a path from Ashland to La Crosse. A number of schools closed their doors today - including Menomonie, Rice Lake, and River Falls. Forecasters expect another 1-to-6 inches in much of northwest Wisconsin. The worst of the storm is supposed to be over tonight.

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The May snowstorm that blanketed southeast Minnesota in a new layer of white has left about 11,000 Xcel Energy customers without power. Xcel's Patti Nystuen says the outages are primarily in the Red Wing, Faribault and Northfield areas. Extra crews have been brought in and will be working throughout the day to restore service. She says they hope to have the majority of the customers restored by this evening, but that is somewhat dependent on how the weather cooperates and whether there are additional outages caused by ongoing rough weather.

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The overnight snowstorm that hit southeastern Minnesota has left the city of Rochester at a virtual stand still. Deputy Emergency Management Director Ken Jones says power is out to much of the city. This time of year trees are often suffering some damage from the long winter, and Joes says that can be problematic under the right conditions and they're seeing tree limbs and even whole trees topple over. Trees have taken out power lines, caused some traffic problems, and crews are working to deal with those issues. With a winter weather warning in place until 7 p.m., Jones expects to be putting in a long day at the Emergency Operations Center.

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Red Wing city crews are out in full force clearing roadways after a record-breaking May snowstorm of up to 17 inches. Lynn Nardinger is deputy director of the Public Works Department. He says they have every possible personnel member out doing the best they can with the wet, heavy snow. There are trees down all over Red Wing. Meanwhile, MnDOT is advising no unnecessary travel in southeastern Minnesota due to heavy snow and reduced visibility.

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A winter storm warning remains in place for most counties east of the Twin Cities, and those along the Iowa and Wisconsin border in southwest Minnesota are still under a winter weather advisory. The morning commute is messy in those areas, with as much as seven inches of wet and heavy snow as of 7 a.m. in Hastings, Cannon Falls, and up to 5 inches in Zumbrota. Visibility is reduced to under a quarter mile in Austin and Albert Lea. As much as a foot of snow is now expected in some areas. The Twin Cities metro has been removed from the storm warning, after a strong north wind put a stop to the possibility of heavy snowfall.

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Corn farmers in Minnesota aren't too happy with the forecast for the remainder of this week, which includes a significant amount of rain and snow. There has already been quite a bit of flooding in across the corn belt and ag meteorologist Brad Rippey says the weather expected to smack Minnesota this week won't help much. Rippey says the May snowstorm will contribute to further delays in a corn planting year that has already been the slowest in almost 30 years, since 1984.

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