Winter storm claims second Minnesotan

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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota authorities say a second person has died because of icy road conditions caused by a fierce Christmas storm on Friday that dumped more snow and ice across the nation’s midsection .

The Minnesota State Patrol says a collision Thursday afternoon claimed the life of 34-year-old Robert Krensing of Fergus Falls.

Authorities say a minivan in Becker County crossed the center line and collided head-on with the vehicle in which Krensing was a passenger. An accident report notes the road was icy.

The driver of the minivan was unhurt. The driver and three other passengers in Krensing’s vehicle had minor injuries.

The State Patrol says a 60-year-old Wisconsin woman died Wednesday when her vehicle spun into oncoming traffic in Renville County.

The National Weather Service warned that blizzards would hit parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin on Christmas Day and into the evening.
Heavy, wet stuff
Mike Ruhland, who was shoveling his driveway in Minneapolis on Friday morning, said he hadn’t made much progress after two hours.

“I waited too long to start shoveling. For two days, it was the white powdery snow, and now it’s the heavy, thick stuff,” he said. “It’s a pain in the butt, but at least I’m getting my exercise for the month.”

Crews were working to restore power to thousands of customers in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa. Several small towns in western Iowa, including Deloit, Manilla and Vail, were in the dark, said Greg Miller, Crawford County’s emergency management director.

The National Weather Service said the storm posed a threat to life and property. Officials warned travelers to stay home and pack emergency kits if they had to set out. Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency.

Slippery roads have been blamed for at least 19 deaths this week as the storm moved east across the country from the Southwest. Driving became so treacherous that authorities closed interstates in Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota to prevent further collisions.

Southwest hit hard

Oklahoma City had received 14 inches of snow by Thursday night, breaking a record set back in 1914 of 2.5 inches. Winds gusted to 50 mph in central Kansas, while winds gusting at up to 65 mph in Texas drifted the snow as deep as 5 feet in some areas.

The Star-Telegram said the Dallas-Fort Worth area was experiencing its first White Christmas in more than 80 years. While the area had a sprinkling of holiday snow in 2004 and 1997, the last time it experienced “a true, New England-style dose of snow on Christmas Day was Dec. 25, 1926,” the newspaper reported.

Some churches canceled Christmas Eve services, while others saw sharply lower attendance.

“I don’t think God wants anyone to get killed or break a hip or break a knee or something,” said the Rev. Joseph Mirowski of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration in Mason City, Iowa.