A day after heavy snow pounded much of the state, Minnesotans are being smacked by frigid temperatures that will only grow worse over the next couple of days.
It's so cold that before sunrise Thursday the National Weather Service extended a wind child advisory into Saturday for the Twin Cities as well as central and west central Minnesota.
The Twin Cities are expected to see only single digital temperatures over the next three days that will fall well below zero at night. The wind chill could drop to 35 degrees below zero in some areas of state, according to the weather service.
The thermometer's sharp drop so soon after heavy snow is creating slippery road conditions for morning commuters. And if the temperature sinks too low, chemicals laid to melt ice become less effective. Blowing snow means roads could drift over even after plows go through.
“We’re going to transition from heavy snow to digging out — and digging out quickly, before it turns into a giant iceberg,” said Dan Miller, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth, where the three-day snowfall surpassed 2 feet.
MnDOT said it plans to have a full complement of plows out through Thursday’s morning rush hour applying salt to the roads, but spokeswoman Bobbie Dahlke said there still could be slick spots. “Our goal is to get the roads in good driving condition,” she said. “We can’t be everywhere, and we can’t promise bare roads.”
Winter made a no-nonsense re-entry Wednesday with steady snowfall that banged up both morning and evening commutes in the Twin Cities metro and further buried northeastern Minnesota in white.
Even with plows and salt trucks out in force, hundreds of traffic accidents were reported Wednesday — one of them fatal.
A 16-year-old driver lost control of her car on a slushy road just short of her destination, Lakeville North High School, and was killed in a collision with an SUV, authorities said.
Alyssa Ettl, a junior, was about a quarter-mile north of the high school when the crash occurred at 9:45 a.m., police said. In a notice on its website, the school district described Ettl as “an exceptional student, athlete and friend to many.”
The Minnesota State Patrol reported 481 crashes statewide, 53 of them resulting in injuries. With snow-covered and icy roads, more than 709 vehicles had spun out or slid off roads and eight semis jackknifed. More than three-fourths of those crashes occurred in the metro area.
The emergency department at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina “reported being very busy from weather-related injuries, particularly falls,” a spokeswoman said.
Minneapolis and St. Paul declared snow emergencies Wednesday afternoon, warning residents to get their cars out of the way of plows. Other cities put in place the temporary parking restrictions, including Crystal, St. Louis Park and West St. Paul.
Skiers, snowshoers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts welcomed the dramatic, three-day snowfall in northern Minnesota — which surpassed more than 30 inches in some areas. About 7 p.m. Wednesday, more than 33 inches had fallen in one spot northwest of Two Harbors.
But the big totals meant that the First Lutheran Church in Duluth had to nix its annual lutefisk dinner. Advent services were also canceled. Even Salvation Army bell-ringing was suspended. Schools, universities, businesses, the Great Lake Aquarium and the Lake Superior Zoo shut down. The Duluth Transit Authority suspended its regular bus routes at 5 p.m. Wednesday and switched to limited “emergency” service.
Duluth police cautioned vehicles and pedestrians near the Aerial Lift Bridge to be wary of falling clumps of snow.
Snowfall reached 10 inches in some parts of the north metro Wednesday, while areas in the southeast mostly saw freezing rain, said Joe Calderone, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen.
Up next: the coldest temperatures of the season. Below-zero lows will likely continue through the weekend.
Calderone had been considering signing up for the Reindeer Run in Minneapolis on Saturday morning. But he’s a forecaster, so he knows that at start time, the temperature could be minus 11 degrees, with a windchill of minus 25.
So he’s going to skip it this year, he said. “It’s way too cold.”