PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. - Spring came falling down Monday on winter-weary residents in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa with more than a foot of new snow in some areas.
Schools in southwestern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota canceled classes as plows hit the highways and streets and the locals fired up their snow blowers or brought out their shovels for another round.
The National Weather Service measured 15 inches of snow in the Grant County, Wis., community of Fennimore and 13 inches in neighboring Crawford County. Decorah, Iowa was dealing with 111/2 inches of snow, while 10 inches fell in Rochester, Minn. The accumulating snow stands in contrast to a week ago, when temperatures hit the 70s in some spots.
Flowers on Main in Zumbrota, Minn., where 12.3 inches of new snow was on the ground, received a shipment of spring flowers Monday.
"We just got in all of our Easter lilies and hydrangeas. It just doesn't feel right," employee Jan Ryan said with a chuckle. She said last week was "gorgeous" in the upper 40s. "That's just the nature of March," she said.
Customer traffic was minimal at the Hungry House restaurant in Prairie du Chien, where 13 inches of snow fell since Sunday. Manager Sam Etemi said he didn't take much stock in the forecast, which predicted a mountain of new snow, until he woke up Monday morning. "I was just amazed and shocked."
In Illinois, vehicles in the governor's motorcade were among those involved in scores of accidents Monday in near white-out conditions and slippery roads. More than 250 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 20 were canceled at Midway International Airport.
The snowstorm in northern Iowa has dampened Mason City's efforts to get a jump-start on spring cleaning. City officials had rescheduled the town's first yard waste collection day of the year for Monday because of a recent bout of pleasant weather. But the storm that dumped about 2 inches of heavy snow in Mason City by early Monday left officials questioning their decision to switch their original April 6 start date.