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Barn's Bluff at Red Wing, approached from the Wisconsin side shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday, was shrouded in blowing snow. The snow cleared itself nicely in open areas, where the highway was crowned and ditches open, but in treed and sheltered areas, roads were drifting. -- Photos by Steve Dzubay

Regional weather round-up: Winter watch and wind chill advisories all across Minnesota

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

A winter storm watch and a wind chill advisory are in place across wide portions of Minnesota today affecting dozens of counties.

The wintry weather began yesterday in the northwest, spread across the rest of the state and killed at least three people on Minnesota highways. Two people were killed in a four-car crash on I-94 near Barnesville, and one person died in a head-on crash on Highway 23 south of Granite Falls. The Minnesota Department of Transportation pulled some plows off the road in western Minnesota because visibility was so poor, with wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. The next storm headed toward the state could dump six to seven inches of snow on the Twin Cities from Thursday into Friday.

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An 18-year-old woman who collapsed outside a house in New Holstein, Wisconsin died from exposure to the cold. That's what the Calumet County medical examiner ruled yesterday, after an autopsy was performed on Monica Batts of New Holstein. Her body was found outside a man's house last Friday - and authorities said she was there for at least six hours beforehand. The resident told officers he did not know Batts. Authorities still want to know why she ventured onto the property. Toxicology tests could provide some clues - but the results won't be known for a few weeks.

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This winter is closer to normal than last winter - and Wisconsin apple growers hope it stays that way. Ann Maenner of the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association says trees need to stay dormant until the frost is gone. That didn't happen in 2012 - and the result was the state's smallest apple production in 67 years. It was first reported last week that Wisconsin produced only 23.6 million pounds of apples last year, down 54-percent from the year before. And yields plunged by more than three tons per acre. Wisconsin had summer-like weather last March, and the apple trees were spooked into blossoming - only to die in April when it got cold-and-snowy again. Maenner said the Drought-of-2012 didn't help matters, either. The USDA also said Wisconsin's cherry production dropped by 75-percent for the same reason. But cranberry growers used the weather to their advantage, and produced a record crop.

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Some of Milwaukee's downtown businesses might have not have water today. That's after a large water-main broke last night. WTMJ Radio said a number of bars-and-restaurants on Water Street did not have water early this morning - and as of 5:30, crews were still working to fix the problem after staying on the job all night.

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