PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. (AP) — 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 snowplows 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, Wisconsin, community of Fennimore and 13 inches in neighboring Crawford County. Decorah, Iowa was dealing with 11½ inches of snow, while 10 inches fell in Rochester, Minnesota. A sprinkling of snow disrupted rush hour traffic in Chicago.
The accumulating snow stands in contrast to a week ago, when temperatures hit the 70s in some spots.
SPRING FLOWERS, FOOT OF SNOW:
Flowers on Main in Zumbrota, Minnesota, 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.
"We kind of feel like we're in a ghost town today. It halts people walking around town. It just halts operations," she said of the snowfall.
She said last week was "gorgeous" in the upper 40s.
"That's just the nature of March," Ryan said. "In like a lamb, out like a lion."
BELIEVE THE FORECAST:
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 certainly wasn't a believer until I stepped outside. I was just amazed and shocked."
Etemi said it was quite a contrast to the upper 40s and 50s of last week.
"Mother Nature has its ways," he lamented. Many roads are still closed, Etemi added.
Schools in the Prairie du Chien School District were among those closed Monday.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR'S MOTORCADE IN CRASH:
The Illinois governor's motorcade was among the vehicles involved in scores of accidents Monday as the early spring storm caused near white-out conditions and slippery roads in northern Illinois.
Reports of crashes and spinouts started coming in after 5:30 a.m., a State Police spokesman said. Some caused minor injuries, including to a state trooper traveling in Rauner's motorcade.
Police said one of the vehicles driven by a member of the State Police unit that protects the governor lost control on Interstate 55 near the Chicago suburb of Countryside around 8:15 a.m. and struck the rear tandem axle of a truck trailer. The driver was treated and released from a hospital.
More than 250 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 20 were canceled at Midway International Airport. Flights that were getting out were experiencing significant delays.
The mess should be short-lived.
Meteorologists said Tuesday's high temperatures were expected to be in the mid-40s, and that the Wednesday high could hit 63 degrees.
SPRING CLEANING DAMPENED:
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.
Despite the weather, City Administrator Brent Trout told the Mason City Globe Gazette (http://bit.ly/1CRFVSR ) that the city did expect some yard waste to be picked up.