WILLMAR (KMHL) – The Minnesota Department of Transportation expects most highways in southwest Minnesota to remain closed for much of the day (Saturday).

MnDOT says an evening of strong winds and blowing and drifting snow combined with stranded vehicles made most state highways in the region impassable Saturday morning. According to MnDOT, vehicles that were stranded require towing so they can reopen many of the roads – and travelers who ventured out on closed roads this morning and became stranded made the situation worse.

“MnDOT’s goal today is to get one lane open,” said District 8 Maintenance Superintendent Lonnie Hoffman. “And that will be a tall order on most roads.”

Hoffman says crews plan to start with the high volume highways first — including Highways 7, 71, 212, 23 and 15. Hoffman said the lower volume roads will be in tough shape until crews can get blowers to the sites.

“We’re still working under challenging conditions as winds are still causing drifting, but we will do our best,” Hoffman added.

As the situation stands, road status will be unchanged throughout much of the day, according to MnDOT. The majority of state highways in the 12 counties of southwest Minnesota District 8 remain closed or in a No Travel Advised status. As roads are removed from No Travel Advised status or are reopened, they will be posted to 511mn.org.