It was just a couple months ago that I was sharing tips on how to get around in the sultry 90-degree heat that has its grip the on the metro area for the better part of a week. Now we have the other extreme: bitter bone-chilling cold.
Another arctic blast has hit Minnesota and the polar-like conditions won't abate any time soon. Temperatures are expected to fall below zero today. Some moderation might begin by Thursday, but the cold is poised to make another return Sunday.
Whether by automobile, mass transit, biking or walking, here are some tips for getting around, staying warm and staying safe as we endure some of the coldest weather of the year.
When temperatures with a minus sign in front of them arrive as they have today, AAA Minnesota says its gets many calls for service. The auto club said it had 476 calls by 8 a.m. Wednesday, double the normal average of 230 on a typical day.
Auto repair shops such as Firestone Auto and Tire Center in Bloomington have seen an uptick in business this week. The most common problems are dead batteries or those with low power, leaking antifreeze, malfunctioning windshield wipers and tires that are not gripping, said store manager David Bodin-Huber.
Motorist should have done preventative maintenance before winter, he said, but short of that Bodin-Huber and AAA have these tips ton the road and not having to call for help:
An emergency kit is vital. Be sure to have a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, basic tools, water and non-perishable food items. A fully-charged cell phone would be a good idea, too.
Windchill can bring on frostbite in few as 10 minutes according to the National Weather Service, so here are tips for those waiting outside for buses and trains:
Our friends at Bike Walk Twin Cities have these suggestions for those who move about on two wheels"
The cold weather is leading to a number of stalls on the system. And with temperatures approaching 8 below zero, black ice is forming in some areas.
Here is the latest list of incidents:
The State Patrol is responding to a crash on eastbound 94 just outside the Lowry Hill Tunnel. Look for tight conditions from 7th Street, and on eastbound 394 from Wirth Pkwy. to downtown Minneapolis.
Northbound 35E continues to be jammed in the area of Hwy. 36. The right lanes are blocked by crash.
The ramp from University Avenue to westbound 694 reamins closed. A Metro Transit bus stalled out and is blocking the ramp.
Commuters on westbound 94 will run into congestion around Snelling Avenue and have lots of company all the way to downtown St. Paul. The heaviest traffic is from Riverside Avenue to Nicollet Avenue.
Westbound 94 also slows a bit approaching Hwy. 61 in St. Paul. A crash is on the right shoulder at Mounds Blvd.
Northbound 35W is crammed three lanes across from 46th Street to downtown Minneapolis. A crash on the downtown exits just cleared.
Two ramps in the north metro are closed. They are along westbound 694 with the ramps from Long Lake Road and University Avenue closed due to stalls.
Two lanes are blocked on northbound 35E at Hwy. 36. A spinout, maybe due to black ice? Southbound traffic is jammed from 694 to Roselawn Avenue.
Two semitrailer trucks and a Metro Transit bus are blocking the ramp from University Avenue to westbound I-694 in Fridley. At least the carpool ramp is available so drivers can still get on the freeway.
Elsewhere, we have a growing list of accidents and stalls that are snarling traffic. Here is where you will run into problems: