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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Missing woman's body found near Wabasha

WABASHA --  The body of a missing woman has been found in the Mississippi River in Wabasha. 

The Winona County Dive Rescue Team located the body of a 49-year-old woman yesterday afternoon, several hours after authorities discovered footprints on the ice extending about 40 yards from shore and going into open water.  Wabasha Police Chief Jim Warren says his department was contacted around 8 a.m. yesterday about a vehicle parked near the National Eagle Center.  It was later learned a witness saw someone on the ice earlier in the morning but wasn't sure if it was a person or a large animal.  The name of the woman has not yet been released.


Interstate 35 between Owatonna and the Iowa border remains closed as crews work to remove stranded vehicles and then clear the roadway of snowdrifts.   Meanwhile Interstate 90 between Dexter and Austin has re-opened after about a three-and-a-half-hour closure earlier this morning, but I-90 remains closed from Stewartville to Dexter. 


Xcel Energy has restored power to nearly 49,000 of the 58,000 customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin who lost power because of the winter storm.  Crews are now working to restore service to an estimated 44-hundred customers in the state.  Xcel spokeswoman Patty Nystuen says it was a severe winter storm with a combination of heavy, wet snow and high winds.


More than four-thousand Alliant Energy customers in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa are still without power following the blizzard.  Wind gusts up to 60 miles an hour sheered off tree limbs which took out utility lines in dozens of locations.  Alliant spokesman Justin Foss says crews were able to get out once the sun came up, but some customers will be without power until late this afternoon.  Foss says they do expect to get everybody back on today and Alliant is bringing in extra crews to help make that happen. 


Tough travel conditions have kept state troopers very busy.  Between two o'clock Thursday afternoon and 10 this morning (Fri), officials responded to over 400 crashes statewide.  One person was killed in a crash in southern Minnesota and 32 mishaps involved injuries.  The State Patrol also responded to more than 1,300 vehicles in the ditch.  Use extreme caution if you have to travel.


More than 100 flights have been canceled at MSP Airport due to the winter storm.  Spokesman Pat Hogan says limited visibility is holding up some flights.  Hogan says there remains much cleanup work to do on some of the runways to get things back to normal, but expects today will run more smoothly for travelers than yesterday.  


Preliminary numbers from the state Public Safety Department show 252 people spent Thursday night in shelters.  Many parts of the state received eight to 14 inches of heavy snow, which closed several roadways and left thousands without power.  A total of 134 residents were housed at five shelters in Renville County including the Olivia National Guard Armory.  The Business Arts and Recreation Center in Windom sheltered 71 people and 20 stayed at the Lake Crystal Seasons Community facility.  State officials are coordinating with local emergency managers in areas affected by the latest winter storm.