Subzero temps, some way below, blanket state; 1 metro driver killed

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: December 6, 2013 - 11:21 PM

There’s no corner of the state immune this week from the subzero barrage that’s only going to get worse. Icy roads made for dangerous driving and slow commutes.


Three questions for Minnesotans, same answer: How cold was it yesterday? How cold is it today? How cold will it be tomorrow?

There’s been no corner of the state immune from the subzero barrage that is not expected to let up until next week.

Add in some stiff winds, and that’s enough for the National Weather Service to post a windchill advisory that warns that temperatures into the weekend will feel more like 40 below zero in some spots.

The Weather Service’s windchill advisory was inspired by a mass of arctic air building over the Upper Midwest and moving in to west-central and east-central Minnesota. The worst of the windchill readings were forecast for Friday night and into Saturday morning.

By 7 a.m. Friday, Fosston in northwestern Minnesota bottomed out at 24 below. It seems that only the southeastern part of Minnesota evaded double-digit readings below zero. Austin was leading the way there, with minus 4, the Weather Service reported.

Otherwise, Park Rapids was reporting minus 21, Hinckley minus 13 and Staples minus 18.

In the metro area, Eden Prairie’s mercury dipped to 9 below. Then it was minus 8 in Lakeville, minus 7 in Crystal and minus 6 in Lake Elmo.

Meteorologist Paul Douglas says the current cold snap may wind up being the coldest stretch since 2007.

Commuters in the southwest metro seemed to have the worst of it Friday morning, where a rollover crash on Hwy. 212 at Hwy. 101 was being blamed on the slick surface. At least one person was extricated from a vehicle in the ditch. Several vehicles slid off northbound Hwy. 169 at Hwy. 101 in Shakopee, while at least two crashes occurred at Interstate 494 and Hwy. 212 in Eden Prairie.

In one crash, a 48-year-old motorist from Shakopee died when his car slid off icy Hwy. 169 along the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, went over a guardrail and came to rest with wheels up on dry land 80 to 100 feet below, according to the State Patrol.

Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said his agency was ­notified of the crash about 8:25 a.m., but it’s possible the crash had occurred at least two hours earlier. The victim’s identity has yet to be released.

Many vehicles also were stalling out, a consequence of the extreme cold.

The subzero temperatures led to refreezing of moisture on highways, ramps and overpasses ­Friday morning in the metro area.

Icy conditions were present Thursday night, when a 60-year-old woman died after her car was struck by a sliding semitrailer truck in west-central Minnesota, authorities said.

The crash shortly before 9 p.m. in Clara City killed Debra J. Griebel, of Marshall, Minn., the State Patrol reported. The northbound semi jackknifed on slick 1st Avenue NW. and hit Griebel’s southbound car head-on, the patrol said. The truck’s driver, Yaya Zongo, 39, of Dallas, was not hurt in the collision.

Seasonal celebrations fell victim to the cold, among them the Shakopee Holiday Festival and the Scott County Historical Society’s open house.

St. Cloud’s Winter Nights and Lights Parade and Santa Fun Run have been canceled, but the Christmas Market will take place Saturday afternoon in downtown St. Cloud. In Cloquet, Santa’s Home for the Holidays parade, scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled.

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