BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – Portions of Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming were hit by a slow-moving snowstorm that knocked out power, closed roads and dumped up to 2 feet by Wednesday night.

Thousands of power outages were reported and some schools were closed by the storm, which began Tuesday. Drifting snow contributed to road closings, and the National Guard was called out in North Dakota to aid the Highway Patrol in rescuing stranded motorists.

By nightfall, hundreds of people in vehicles, including three buses, had been rescued with equipment ranging from snow plows to bulldozers, said Rick Robinson of the state Department of Emergency Services.

There were no reports of injuries.

“It’s really treacherous – heavy, deep snow. Visibility is just really poor. It’s so heavy that vehicles just can’t push through it,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Bethke said.

As much as 11 inches of snow had fallen in southeastern Montana by Wednesday morning. Billings had received 10.8 inches and set a record for snowfall Tuesday with 9.9 inches, National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Humphrey said.

At least 11,000 customers throughout the region lost power for a time as trees fell on power lines, officials said.

The storm, which moved in from the Rockies overnight, dropped up to two feet of snow in parts of western and central North Dakota, and winds up to 50 mph created blizzard conditions in some areas.

“It is, on our records, probably one of the earliest ones, as far as our recorded history goes, in 126, 130 years,” said Sam Walker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, N.D.

The storm came just a few days after North Dakota had temperatures in the 90s. Warmer weather was forecast to return in the coming days.

In Utah, the ski industry was looking up.

Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort received its first snow of the year Tuesday with 6 inches atop 11,000-foot Hidden Peak. More snow was falling Wednesday.

“There are still projects to be done before winter arrives, but this first snowfall has put smiles on the faces of people all around Snowbird,” said Snowbird President Bob Bonar.



Associated Press Writer Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, N.D., contributed to this report.


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