Dense fog, wet highways greet Monday morning commuters

  • Article by: PATRICK DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 28, 2013 - 7:08 AM

A sloppy Sunday storm had motorists sliding into each other or spinning off roads across the state but caused no critical injuries.

A dreary kaleidoscope of precipitation that included rain, sleet and snow turned roads across much of Minnesota into dangerous messes on Sunday, and conditions were slightly better Monday morning.

The "wintry mix" dreaded by motorists and pedestrians alike left a layer of ice under falling snow that led to 367 crashes statewide from noon to 8:30 p.m., according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Forty-eight people were injured in those crashes, none critically. No one was killed.

When they weren't plowing into each other, motorists had trouble simply keeping their cars on the road. The State Patrol also reported 299 incidents involving vehicles going off the road or spinning out of control in that time period. Three involved jackknifed semitrailer trucks.

The accident that may have affected the most people came in late afternoon with the overturning of a semitrailer truck on Interstate 35E near Lino Lakes that shut down northbound lanes, said Lt. Eric Roeske, a spokesman for the State Patrol.

The State Patrol said 35W also was closed for a short time, because the accident happened just south of the split with 35E. No one was injured, and the roadways were open by 10 p.m., the State Patrol said.

The storm began early Sunday in southeastern Minnesota and moved north, first spitting rain that froze on roads and sidewalks, then dumping sleet and large-flaked snow. Accumulation was not deep -- no more than a couple of inches in the metro area -- but the slush and snow were heavy and not easy to drive through or shovel.

Along the Interstate 90 corridor in southern Minnesota, roads were treacherous by noon, and MnDOT advised no travel. It was a little better to the north, but extreme caution was advised throughout Sunday, and metro-area motorists drove slowly along major thoroughfares, trying not to join the scores of drivers who ended up in ditches.

Another round of rain and snow is expected Monday night, Tuesday morning and early Wednesday, the Weather Service said. By Wednesday night, the cold will roar back, with at low of 5 below.

It won't snow Thursday, the last day of January, the Weather Service predicted. But the high that day will be only zero.

Staff writer Pamela Miller contributed to this report.

Patrick Doyle • 612-673-4504

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