Parts of I-35 remain closed following deep snow drifts, white out conditions

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Interstate 35 remains remains closed Monday from Owatonna, Minnesota to the Iowa border due to blowing snow and reduced visibility.

The Minnesota State Patrol said cars are still being towed off the interstate so plows can get through to clear the road. Even the state’s heavy duty equipment struggled in the post-blizzard conditions as crews worked tirelessly to re-open the interstate.

“We’ve got two to three inches of compaction on the road. We just want to get the drifting off so cars can travel,” said Ron Heim, MnDOT Supervisor. “The huge drifts, they’re four to six feet tall and we have six to seven miles of drifts just in our area."

In addition to snow removal and clean-up, there was the issue of removing all the stranded cars and semis abandoned at the height of the weekend storm.

“People are really understanding,” said tow truck operator Noah Kreitinger. “I mean, you get Minnesota Nice. It’s so hard, so overwhelming. You get one call and then seven other calls.”

Trucker Mustafa Dhululul said he was one of the many to spend the night at the Owatonna armory.

“We were five guys. There was no help yesterday; by the time I called 911, they said no help. I was scared, running out of fuel,” he said.

Nate Faue of Ames, Iowa and his pregnant wife were also among the nearly 200 people forced off the road Sunday.

“I feel like I’ve driven through eight inches of snow before and it’s just go slow and it’s fine, but this was the first time that I had to get off the road and call it a day,” he said.

“From what I heard there we people sleeping on the floor in Walmart last night. At least I had a warm bed in my truck,” added semi driver John Savage.

Snow and strong winds created blizzard conditions in southern Minnesota Sunday, prompting several counties to issue no travel advisories and close county roads. The State Patrol sent additional troopers from the Twin Cities metro and St. Cloud districts to the area to assist with the calls. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota State Patrol and local law enforcement are working to reopen roads, but "high drifts and many abandoned vehicles are slowing clearing," MnDOT spokesperson Kevin Gutknecht said on Twitter. 

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