BEMIDJI – State highway conditions improved Friday morning after road crews worked to improve hazardous driving conditions.
In a mid-morning news release, the Minnesota Department of Transportation backed off from its earlier plea advising no unnecessary travel due to ice roads. Earlier, MnDOT advised no travel in northwest Minnesota.
"Officials do not anticipate any highway closures at this time but conditions could change rapidly with anticipated storm conditions," the release said.
Motorists are advised to drive slowly on bridges, overpasses and tunnels; use a safe speed for winter driving conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit; keep a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front of you; and keep both hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the road and attention on your driving.
For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone.
The freezing rain already has prompted numerous closures, including the the cancelation of classes for the Bemidji School District.
Numerous other school districts in the area also have canceled classes for today, including Bagley, Blackduck, Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School, Cass Lake-Bena, Kelliher, Laporte, Nevis, Northome, Park Rapids, Red Lake, and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
Additionally, Friday Family Fun Night at Buena Vista has been canceled by Bemidji Parks and Recreation for tonight. The ice fishing program Saturday at Lake Bemidji State Park also was canceled, and a release said officials hoped to reschedule it in March.
Churches United announced it closed for the day.
Paul Bunyan Broadcasting is also reporting that closures today include Nortech; the Bemidji Senior Center, and its Senior Nutrition Program; Meals on Wheels; Adult Day Services; the Bemidji Community Food Shelf; and the Northern Dental Access Center.
Additionally, the TLC Preschool is closed, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting says, and Growing Tree at Bemidji's Trinity Lutheran Church has no morning preschool, however its child care is open. St. Philips Clothing Depot is closed today and tomorrow.
The ice storm warning for the region remains in effect for the region until noon today.
A winter weather advisory has been issued from 6 p.m. tonight until noon Saturday.
Freezing rain is expected to continue throughout the region this morning. Ice accumulations greater than a quarter inch are expected, making travel “nearly impossible,” according to the National Weather Service out of Grand Forks, N.D.
The precipitation will change to snow this evening and overnight.
Snow accumulations by Saturday morning could total 1-3 inches.