CROOKSTON, Minn. (AP) - Gusty winds are gradually calming after creating white-out conditions and closing highways in northwestern Minnesota.

The blinding snows closed dozens of schools. Crookston, Alexandria and Fergus Falls are among school districts that told students to stay home Thursday.

Two jackknifed semis on Interstate 94 between Alexandria and Osakis prompted MnDOT to shut down that portion of the highway from mid-morning to early afternoon.

Morris recorded a wind gust of 52 mph just before noon while Appleton had a gust of 49 mph.

Two Kennedy firefighters rescued a driver stranded on Highway 11 after he ran off the road and ran out of gas early Thursday. Kittson County Sheriff's jailer Tim Nordine says that people risked their lives by going out in the storm to get him.