An early blizzard bowled across the Northern Plains and upper Midwest yesterday. Mammoth drifts and blinding sheets of snow marooned travelers, kept snowplows off highways and virtually paralyzed entire Cities.
Sioux City, Iowa, was all but shut down. Rush-hour traffic was badly snarled and public and parochial schools closed in Omaha, Neb. The mayor of Sioux Falls, S.D., declared a snow emergency to battle six-foot drifts.
National Weather Service forecasters in Fargo, N.D., said the storm there was the worse on record for this early in the season. Although an early November storm in 1940 had lower temperatures, they said, no previous storms had such high winds or heavy snowfall.
In the soggy Northeast, meanwhile, cleanup operations were under way in many areas hit by up to nine inches of rain earlier in the cloudy skies replaced showers in much of the area yesterday.
Blizzard warnings were in effect for western Minnesota, North and South Dakota, northeast Iowa and Nebraska, where snow was driven in stinging sheets by winds gusting up to 80 miles an hour. Southern parts of the area received heavy rains.
Temperatures ranged through the upper 20s and low 30s in much of the area and were expected to fall into the teens. But the gusting winds brought the wind-chill factor much lower, dipping to zero at Scotts Bluff, Neb.
Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland canceled his scheduled appearance at the Midwestern Conference on Food and Social Policy at South Sioux City, Neb., across the Missouri river from Sloux City, Iowa. Four inches of snow fell at Sioux City and high winds prevented city snowplows from clearing the streets.
In Sioux City, Woodbury County Sheriff's Lt. Phil Heimbecker said his department and the city police department were practically shut down by the snow and winds.
He said main highways in and out of Sioux City were closed by jack-knifed tractor-trailers. Despite the weather, he said, there were only minor injuries reported.
Authorities in Ottertail County, in western Minnesota, said two trucks loaded with turkeys were among vehicles stranded on Minnesota 210 and about half of the birds had frozen to death.
At Fergus Falls, in western Minnesota, traffic was snarled by a three-inch snowfall. About 50 cars were stranded on Interstate 94 west of the city.
The Nebraska State Patrol closed portions of Interstate 80 in the extreme east and west parts of the state for a time yesterday morning. Interstate 29, which cuts south along the Nebraska state line from Sioux City, was closed when visibility fell to zero.
Power outages were common.
About 500 persons were allowed to return to their homes at Lodi, N.J., after 9.6 inches of rain fell in the area Monday and Tuesday, flooding the Upper Saddle River. No injuries were reported but authorities said some homes suffered considerable damage.
In North Carolina, where 11 persons died as a series of severe storms swept through mountain areas over the weekend, officials said the state may formulate contingency plans for future elections. Voting Tuesday was disrupted by storm-spawned flooding.
A helicopter had to be sent to get ballots from one mountian election district because a number of bridges were destroyed.