Heavy snow causes Metrodome roof to collapse in MinnesotaBy the CNN Wire Staff
December 12, 2010 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
Snow causes Metrodome roof to collapseSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
Several panels of the inflatable roof are torn, official says
The NFL moves Giants-Vikings game to Monday in Detroit
Blizzard warning remains in effect for parts of the Midwest
More than 17 inches of snow has fallen in Minneapolis since Friday
(CNN) -- The center of a snowstorm lingered Sunday over parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, where pounding snow caused the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis to collapse, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol said.
A low pressure system, pushed by heavy winds, is creating hazardous conditions in parts of the Midwest, which has been blanketed by near-whiteout conditions since the storm began Friday.
The National Weather Service issued an alert Sunday for parts of the three states and regions along the Mississippi River, warning travelers of hazardous conditions caused by heavy snow, fierce winds and subzero temperatures.
Travel is strongly discouraged except in cases of an emergency. Road crews, struggling with winds in some cases up to 45 mph, will be pulled off the road as whiteout conditions are expected to continue, the weather service said.
In Minneapolis, the roof of the city's 64,000-seat football stadium caved in, its iconic dome no longer visible after more than 17 inches of snow blanketed the Twin Cities since Friday.
iReport: Treacherous conditions in Minnesota
Workers wielding shovels could be seen clearing the roof of the heavy white stuff. Photos taken from inside the darkened stadium showed much of the field covered with snow that fell from a gaping hole in the dome.
Concerns about the stadium's Teflon-covered inflatable dome surfaced Friday night, prompting officials to postpone a football game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings.
The game, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed until Monday night, and will be played at 7:20 p.m. at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the NFL said.
Lt. Eric Roeske, spokesman for Minnesota State Patrol, said it appeared the the Metrodome's roof, which is held up by air pressure, "deflated" Sunday morning.
"Obviously the weight of the snow would affect how much air pressure is necessary to keep that roof up," Roeske said. "Something caused that air pressure not to be strong enough or high enough to keep that roof at its normal position."
Roy Terwilliger, chairman of the Minneapolis Metro Sports Commission -- the group that oversees the Metrodome -- said the heavy snow and cold, high winds "was too much pressure on the dome and several panels on the Teflon roof were caused to rip."
He added that "you can look through the tear in the roof and see the sky."
CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider said that 17.5 inches of snow has fallen in Minneapolis since Friday, and more than 21 inches in Shakopee, about 20 miles southwest of St. Paul.
"Snow can get heavier and higher in certain areas due to blowing and drifting snow," Schneider said. "We've seen wind gusts in the Minneapolis area up to 45 mph so it's possible that that snow can blow about and concentrations get even heavier in certain spots, making roofs more vulnerable."
Terwilliger said experts are assessing the damage.
"As soon as we have that reading, there will be a conference call with the NFL, the teams and dome officials to assess exactly how we will proceed from there," he said.
Jack Paar, a CNN iReporter in St. Paul, warned viewers in affected areas to make sure the heavy snowfall is not damaging their heating system after the vent pipes in his heating system broke down.
"It's been a heck of a storm," said Paar. "I am sitting in my house with space heaters."
Meanwhile, Wisconsin emergency workers are coping with snow-packed and icy roads, reporting that a stretch of I-94 between Tomah and Eau Claire continues to be impassible due to heavy snow.
While the National Weather Service is reporting a slight decrease in snowfall intensity by late Sunday, light to moderate snow and freezing temperatures accompanied by wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph are expected across much of the state, according to the Wisconsin Emergency Division for Emergency Management.
In Iowa, snow had subsided in some areas but emergency workers were coping with more than 1,000 power outages, a state emergency spokesman said.
Maureen Richmond, a spokeswoman for the Greyhound bus line, said service was disrupted along three of its routes: Omaha to Des Moines, Minneapolis to Milwaukee, and Minneapolis to Duluth.
Service along the Omaha-Des Moines route was expected to resume later Sunday. Some bus travelers at the Des Moines bus station had been stuck there since Saturday night. Richmond said pizza was brought in for those passengers due to the inconvenience.