Get out your shovels one more time

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE and MARY LYNN SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 19, 2013 - 1:42 PM

Late season storm snarled traffic, but warmer days are on the way.

Consider this latest spring snowstorm a big, wet, sloppy kiss goodbye from winter.

We hope.

Another wintry blast buried northeastern Minnesota under more than a foot and a-half of new snow, disrupted travel and closed schools.

The National Weather Service says 22 inches of snow has fallen in the Lake County community of Two Harbors, with 20 inches at Lake Nichols in St. Louis County. The Twin Cities totals stretched from 5-11 inches.

Temperatures are expected to nick 50 by next week, short of the 60-degree temps normal for April in Minnesota, but a welcome respite from the winter without end.

One person was killed Thursday on I-94 near Hwy. 95. The State Patrol said Jonathon Pohlen, 16, of Houlton, Wis., died when his westbound car went out of control, crossed the median and collided head-on with an eastbound semitrailer.

With snow expected to taper by morning and road crews plowing throughout the night, the Friday morning commute should be less harrowing, according to transportation officials. “Unless the weather throws a curve ball,” cautioned Kent Barnard, spokesman for the Minnesota Transportation Department. “People still need to slow down and drive down for the road conditions.”

This latest onslaught of winter to barrel through Minnesota was part of a powerful spring storm system that wreaked havoc from the Rockies to the Rust Belt. Snow and ice closed highways in Colorado and Wyoming. Rivers surged beyond their banks after downpours in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. Tornadoes caused scattered damage in Oklahoma.

Air travelers throughout the region faced delays and canceled flights. At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, two dozen flights were scratched and others were delayed by as much as four hours.

On the ground in Minneapolis, eight Metro Transit buses got stuck in the slippery slush. Passengers on one of them took matters into their own hands.

“The driver tried to rock it forward,” said Michael Miller, a passenger on the Route 18 bus stuck on the Nicollet Mall at Grant Street. “The driver turned around and joked, ‘Who wants to push?’ ”

The driver called transit officials, but before the rescue crew could arrive one man jumped off to push. Miller followed. Within moments, a group of 15 to 20 passengers and passersby had the 40,000-pound bus moving again. “It was really cool,” Miller said. “It was one of those moments when a bunch of strangers banded together. … It was a bright side to this really crappy, snowy day.”

The spring snow led the city of Minneapolis to scramble its street-sweeping schedule, already postponed due to the lingering snow in the streets, while Mayor R.T. Rybak proclaimed Friday “Ski to Workday,” benefiting the Loppet Foundation, a youth recreation organization. Details are at www.startribune.com/a2193.

In the midst of the winter storm, tornado drills rang out as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

“These drills are usually planned 10 months in advance,” said National Weather Service forecaster Todd Krause. “The [drill] is usually happening at a time when the temperatures are warm and people are thinking of spring.”

Balmier weather will get here eventually, Krause said. “The thing with springtime weather is that it can change rapidly,” he added.

Before the latest snowstorm, transportation road crews had begun moving into their “summer” jobs, repairing potholes and guardrails that have seen the worst of winter, Barnard said. But because of winter’s long grip on the state, none of the crews has yet needed to mow the ditches along the highway, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

mcaul@startribune.com • 612-673-7646 mlsmith@startribune.com 612-673-4788



 

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