(Reuters) - Below-freezing temperatures, snow and icy roads menaced the U.S. Northern Plains on Monday, forcing North Dakota and South Dakota to close major highways and warn people to remain indoors due to a winter storm that also swept across much of the Midwest.
Rain and freezing rain also were possible over parts of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, where winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings were in effect, the National Weather Service said.
Temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 9 to minus 4 degrees Celsius) were expected from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes.
Nearly every highway across North Dakota and the western half of South Dakotawas shut down on Sunday night, or no travel was advised, the weather service said. Each state’s transportation department reported multiple highway closures as of midday Monday.
“This winter storm system is forecast to continue on its northeast track, reaching Quebec by Tuesday,” the weather service said.
Bismarck, North Dakota’s state capital, was hit by some 12.5 inches (32 cm) of snow, creating difficult conditions for those who had to report to jobs on Monday, a holiday for many in the United States.
“The North Dakota Capitol grounds haven’t been cleared of snow, and I had to walk through knee-deep snow just to get to work,” said David Schlecht, a security officer at the North Dakota Heritage Center, a museum next to the Capitol.
The snow ended as the temperature plunged to 10 degrees F (minus 12 C), with a “real feel” of minus 20 degrees F (minus 29 C), according to AccuWeather.com.
Farther south, rain and thunderstorms were expected ahead of a cold front passing through eastern Texas, the Tennessee and Ohio valleys and in the Northeast, the weather service said.
New England could expect several hours of freezing rain on Monday and into Tuesday, when the precipitation could turn into snow.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)