MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Department of Transportation has closed I-35 from Faribault to Owatonna.

It’s warning of several crashes and dangerous conditions on that 16-mile stretch of highway. It’s among the areas being hardest hit by Monday’s snowstorm, and strong winds that have come with it. About a foot of snow had already fallen in the area by 2:30 p.m.

WCCO’s Angela Davis experienced that tough commute and is in Northfield.

Gusts of wind sent snow flying sideways, sticking to trees and signs along Interstate 35 south of the Twin Cities metro. The blowing snow also sent people into defensive driving mode.

In Northfield, mail carrier Karl Nelson had to call it quits early.

“Conditions weren’t that bad until about two hours ago when the visibility got down to almost nothing,” Nelson said. “I thought maybe I could do the route up until about noon and then I decided it was just too unsafe to be on the road.”

Nelson’s last stop was a hotel, where other drivers abandoned their plans for the day too, after icy conditions made it too difficult and dangerous to continue.

“It’s so icy they’re sliding off the roads. We’re hearing that the plows have been taken off the roads. The visibility, you can barely see in front of you. They’re just really bad,” Angie Robinson, hotel manager in Northfield, said.

Truck drivers hauling loads spent some extra time at the rest stop in Elko/New Market. Trucker Elmer Mason has to drive down to Iowa Monday night.

“If it gets bad, I’ll park. I won’t try to drive in real bad weather because it’s just not worth it,” Mason said.

Byron Carter lives just 16 miles away in Cannon Falls, but can’t get home, because the one road leading there is closed. Semis keep jackknifing.

“It’s kind of a curvy road where they come into town, so it’s kind of dangerous,” Carter said.

As he headed to the Country Inn & Suites, Carter said he rescued a woman stuck in a ditch.

“The way I look at things, you can’t leave no one left behind out in the ditch or anything like that, so I gave her a hand and helped her push her car out,” Carter said.

The National Weather Service says some areas within the snow-band could see up to 15 inches of snow before the system moves out late Monday evening.

Several counties in southern Minnesota are under a blizzard warning, and MnDOT officials say stay home if you don’t have to be on the roads.

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