Minnesotans to the north and west of the Twin Cities awakened Thursday to snow depths topping out in the high teens and still more school closings and delays in what has been a winter well into overtime.
The 19 inches that the National Weather Service (NWS) says fell in Isanti, about 40 miles north of the Twin Cities, appears to be the deepest.
Communities in parts of northwest Hennepin County as well as Anoka and Wright counties were socked with totals ranging from 7.5 inches in Maple Grove to 17 inches in the northern Anoka County hamlet of Nowthen and 17.5 northeast of North Branch.
The heavy, wet snow and icy patches bogged down the Twin Cities’ morning commute. Drivers in the north metro had it the worst, with traffic jammed on Hwy. 10 from Anoka east to Blaine and on Interstate 694 in both directions.
A semitrailer jackknifed on eastbound Interstate 694 in Arden Hills around 4 a.m. Closer in and a few hours later, westbound Hwy. 36 traffic crept along at 10 to 15 miles per hour.
An early spinout and crash on westbound I-94 blocked two lanes at Huron Boulevard for about 30 minutes in Minneapolis. That led to a significant backup that pushed the drive time between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis to 18 minutes. A handful of wrecks during the heart of the rush swelled that time to at least 40 minutes.
On northbound I-35E in St. Paul, a box truck and a vehicle collided at Randolph Avenue. Then another motorist plowed into a Minnesota Department of Transportation Highway Helper truck that had stopped to assist.
The core of the Twin Cities and points south largely escaped the heavy totals, with 3.5 inches measured in downtown Minneapolis and but an inch of snow in Prior Lake. Even so, travel still was tricky on that side of town.
A vehicle spun out on northbound Hwy. 169 on the Bloomington-Eden Prairie border, landed in the ditch and created a backup from Anderson Lakes Parkway south to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge.
The number of crashes dropped off as the rush hour slowly rolled on, but the slushy snow created a washboard effect on highway surfaces that had many commuters doubling their normal drive times.
Metro Transit reports all modes of service — buses, light rail and Northstar commuter rail — were hitting their scheduled rounds.
Students staying home Thursday include those in Forest Lake, Princeton and North Branch. Extra shut-eye before classes start was granted by districts in Elk River, Delano, Rockford and about a half-dozen others.
The Minnesota Twins, having already pushed Wednesday’s home game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays to Thursday, creating a day-night doubleheader, said they are so far pushing ahead with both contests in the face of temperatures still nearly 20 degrees below normal.
The shovel or let it melt debate should resolve itself by afternoon. The weather service called for a high Thursday of 40 degrees. The warm-up continues heading toward Easter Sunday, the NWS added, with a high in the mid-60s under sunny skies warming anyone’s bonnet with all the frills upon it.