It's a double scoop

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2007 - 10:33 PM

The second verse was worse than the first as another late winter snowstorm ground its way across the Upper Midwest.

The other overshoe dropped on Minnesota Thursday, clobbering the state with heavy snow and high winds and leading Gov. Tim Pawlenty to mobilize the National Guard to help with emergencies.

The slower-moving and nastier big brother of last weekend's storm prompted highway shutdowns and early closings for public and private employers, shopping centers and public schools on Thursday. Even the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus was closed entirely for the first time since the Halloween blizzard of 1991.

"We just had to do this," said university Provost Tom Sullivan, noting that if students, faculty and staff hadn't been sent home early, they may not have gotten home at all.

Sullivan said he expected to announce at about 4 a.m. a decision on whether the campus would reopen today.

St. Paul public school officials announced Thursday night that schools would be closed today. Minneapolis schools didn't have classes scheduled.

Officials at hundreds of other districts across the southern half of the state, where 140 districts were closed for all or part of Thursday, were also expected to decide this morning whether to open. Many districts in northern Minnesota were almost certain to be closed today as the storm intensified there.

Snow emergencies were called Thursday in Minneapolis, St. Paul and many other cities.

State and regional high school championship tournaments were being frantically rescheduled after postponements Thursday. Two boys' sectional hockey finals, expected to draw about 5,000 fans to Mariucci Arena Thursday, were rescheduled to less-than-prime-time slots Saturday morning.

Statewide blanket

The storm, which entered southwestern Minnesota overnight Thursday along with blizzard warnings, dropped 12 inches through parts of the metro area by 9 p.m., with at least 2 to 6 more expected by midday today before the storm crawls on to northern Minnesota.

Minnesota National Guard Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said the guard had already been asked to open armories in Albert Lea and Owatonna to house stranded travelers.

Duluth already had a foot by early evening, though measurements were tough with east winds gusting to 65 miles per hour. It was also thundering.

"It can't get much worse than that," said National Weather Service meteorologist Byron Paulson.

The North Shore area was expecting another foot of snow by tonight. Schools and county offices in Two Harbors, up the shore from Duluth, will be closed today.

The Weather Service in Duluth encouraged residents to keep snow cleared away from their homes' vents and intakes to keep circulation systems working.

In Hutchinson, west of Minneapolis, 10 to 12 inches had fallen by dinnertime Thursday, with a strong wind whipping from the east. Shops and other businesses began closing in the afternoon, and by 6 p.m. even the 24-hour Wal-mart had closed its doors with no definite time to reopen.

On the roads

"I can't talk real long; I'm plowing," said Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kent Barnard, who has plowed 14 years for MnDOT.

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