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A pedestrian crosses DeMers Avenue in Grand Forks, N.D., Thursday afternoon as a late season snow storm moved through the Red River Valley. (AP photo)

Spring storm brings snow and ice to N., S. Dakota

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Officials closed Interstate 94 across most of North Dakota on Sunday as a spring storm carrying heavy snow and high winds spread across the state.

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The North Dakota Transportation Department and the Highway Patrol closed I-94 from the Montana border to Jamestown, saying snow and wind were causing areas of near zero visibility and significant drifting that made the roadway impassible. Officials were advising people not to travel on other highways in the Dickinson, Bismarck, Jamestown, Valley City and Fargo areas.

"It's white-out conditions, with visibility down near zero," National Weather Service meteorologist Lindsay Tardif-Huber of Bismarck said.

"We have a lot of snow drifts, making travel very treacherous and hazardous," Tardif-Huber said.

The North Dakota Legislature also announced today's session was canceled because of the storm, which had brought 15 inches of snow to Bismarck by 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

The storm was expected to spread north and east before ending sometime today or early Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported.

In western North Dakota, Dunn County emergency manager Denise Brew said as much as a foot of snow had fallen in the area by 2 p.m., and officials were urging people to stay off the roads. She said the storm could cause problems for ranchers whose cows are having calves.

"Those are the people I worry about right now," Brew told the Dickinson Press.

In northern South Dakota, a combination of snow and freezing rain was expected to continue until Sunday night, with some areas getting 6 to 12 inches or more of snow in the north-central and northeastern areas of the state.

Residents of Sioux Falls and surrounding areas in southeastern South Dakota were still recovering from a storm that dumped freezing rain and heavy snow in the past week, snapping tree branches and downing power lines.

Xcel Energy said it was nearly the end of its work to restore power to communities hit by the storm. About 90,000 customers in the area have been dealing with power outages since the storm hit Tuesday. The company said it was working Sunday to restore service to fewer than 200 customers.

More than 420 workers were busy repairing power lines on Saturday. Those included Xcel crews from South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota and help from other utilities and contractors from nearby states.

The city of Sioux Falls said cleanup crews were expanding their efforts Sunday to remove fallen tree branches. Crews cleared branches Saturday in the core areas of the city, but were expanding to all emergency and secondary snow routes Sunday.

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