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February 29, 2012 06:05 PM

I-90 Closure Strands Drivers In Murdo

Murdo, SD

The latest snowstorm to hit KELOLAND caused its fair share of headaches from driveways to the interstate highways.  I-90 from Chamberlain to Murdo was such a mess, it closed for seven hours, opening again around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon.

Murdo was swamped with dozens of semi trucks, forced off the road when I-90 closed.  The closure caught many here by surprise.

"From Rapid City to about 10 miles from here, it wasn't bad at all; a few icy spots, but mainly the right lane was pretty much open," stranded trucker James Smith said.

"It was definitely slow going, and you needed to be cautious.  But past this point was when the drifting and the visibility became really, really poor," traveler Ande White said.

White was returning to Wisconsin after spending a week snowboarding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  But just miles after passing Murdo early Wednesday morning, White encountered snow that he could've done without.

"The drifts were just getting larger and it was unsafe to continue," White said.

But most of the people affected by the interstate closure were riding on 18-wheels.

"Well, if you've got a heavy load on, it's really not that bad.  But if you're empty or have a real light load, it bounces you around quite a bit because you're high profile and you catch a lot of wind," Smith said.

And even though Smith is happy to be waiting out the storm in a truck stop café instead of on the side of the road or in the ditch, the weather did affect his schedule.

"I probably won't be able to make my delivery Thursday.  It'll probably have to be Friday, since I've shut down," Smith said.

But if the delay keeps him safe, Smith says it was well worth it and offers a word of advice for people on the road.

"Well, if anybody out there is going to drive tonight, I imagine that stuff is probably going to freeze over if it does thaw at all.  So be careful, take your time, and arrive safely," Smith said.

Even though the interstate is now open, the DOT is urging drivers to slow down drastically and, as always, give snow plows plenty of space.

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