Cold weather, winds continue; students miss another day of school

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On a day Benson school students were supposed to be making up for a day lost to a blizzard back on Dec. 10, they lost their make-up day to another blizzard.

Benson students will now be going to classes into June.

As District 777 school buses headed out on their routes early Monday morning the wind was blowing at s mild 10 mph out of the northwest. But in just 15 minutes, between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m., wind speeds pick up significantly, howling out of the northwest at between 30 and 36 mph.

The strong winds caused rapid drifting making some country roads impassable. At 6:40 a.m. a school bus was reported stuck in the country. The vehicle sent out to help get it unstuck, ended up in the ditch.

School bus drivers were calling in telling the administration that roads were bad and getting rapidly worse, Supt. Lee Westrum said. At that point, school was called off for the fourth time this winter. Students will make up the lost day Monday, June 3.

Rural Benson students may have been fortunate they didn’t make it to school Monday. At shortly before 11:30 a.m., the Swift County Sheriff’s Office used its CodeRED warning system to notify the community that travel in Swift County was not advised. Wind gusts would at times reduce visibility to nearly zero at times, especially along stretches of highway like Minnesota 29 north near Lake Hassell.

Poor visibility attributed to a multiple vehicle crash on Interstate 94 near Barnesville in which two people died and third was injured. Numerous accidents were reported throughout the state.

In Willmar, where students did make it to class, blizzard conditions prevented busses from going back out Monday afternoon. After attempting to leave on their assigned routes, drivers were told to return students to the school. Parents were asked to contact the school to make other arrangements to get their children home.

Because of reduced visibility, Kandiyohi County pulled its plows from the roads at 4 p.m. At 6 p.m., as darkness settled over western Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Transportation pulled its plows from the roads.

Winds throughout the day Monday were steady at over 30 mph and gusting to near 50 mph in west central Minnesota.

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