Roads in metro in fair condition for early commute

  • Article by: By BILL McAULIFFE
  • Updated: February 27, 2009 - 8:56 AM

Stepped outside yet? The storm kept on giving and boosted metro-area snow totals to up to 8 inches overnight.

Driving conditions this morning are "fair" in  the metro area, MnDOT says, after plows and sand trucks worked through the night to clear snow that piled up over 7" in some areas.

The state Department of Transportation website says driving conditions this morning are difficult to fair over virtually all of Minnesota. There were half a dozen spinouts and crashes reported just before 8 a.m. around the metro area as the morning commute unfolded. A minor crash on Interstate 494 near Baker Road in the southwest metro was backing up southbound traffic.

A crash was also gumming up the works on westbound Hwy. 55 at Hwy. 5 not far from the airport.

Meanwhile, spinouts were frustrating drivers on Hwy. 77 at I-35E in the southeast metro and at I-94 at I-494 a little farther east in the southeast part of town.

Early snowfall totals by the National Weather Service this morning were reported as:

Bloomington, 7.5 inches

Chanhassen, 4.5 inches.

Eden Prairie, 6.7 inches

Edina, 5.8 inches

Forest Lake, 2.5 inches

Granite Falls, 6.0 inches

Lakeville, 6.9 inches

Minneapolis, 6.0

Mankato, 5.0 inches

North St. Paul, 5.10 inches

Prior Lake, 5.0 inches

Redwood Falls, 5.8 inches

St. Cloud 4.1 inches

The National Weather Service said wind chills in the metro area today will be between minus 5 and minus 15, with a high of 17.

Clouds roll in tonight, with a low of zero, and wind chills  between minus 5 and  minus 10.

Looking for warmth? Monday's forecast predicts a high near 30, and Tuesday's forecast calls for a high of 35 degrees.

There were no delays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this morning,   the Federal Aviation Administration said on its website.

Thursday's storm prompted both St. Paul and Minneapolis to call snow emergencies, which went into effect at 9 p.m. But it also revived the ski and snowmobile season across the southern third of Minnesota, which had lost much of its snow in recent weeks.

By early evening, Donnelly, about 150 miles west of the Twin Cities, had received 9.3 inches of new snow. Bloomington had 7.2 with more falling. Lakeville had 5.8; 4 of that had fallen in one hour during the afternoon.   To the southeast, snowfall amounts were lower, but freezing rain was falling as evening wore on.

The storm prompted the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas to cancel late-afternoon and evening classes, and shut down dozens of other schools and activities across the state. The Walker Art Center, whose free Thursday night programs are among its biggest draws, closed at 3 p.m.

Weather Service meteorologist Lisa Schmit said southerly flows of warm, moist air ahead of the storm -- the Twin Cities had seen two days with thawing temperatures -- added moisture and warm-air updrafts that produced the thunder and heavy snow. Thunder and lightning were common from Redwood Falls to the southern edges of the Twin Cities, she said.

Driving began to get tough early in most of the state's western counties because of heavy snow and high winds. In the evening, metro area traffic was slowed by spinouts and vehicles unable to climb slippery ramps onto highways, said Brian Kary, freeway operations engineer for the state transportation department's Traffic Management Center.

"It seems like a lot of people got smart and left early," Kary said.

St. Paul residents may notice two new features to their snow emergency. The city opened a Twitter account, at twitter.com/stpaulpublicw, to go along with mobile and e-mail messaging to notify residents of parking restrictions. And city public works employees will be ticketing illegally parked cars, because a private contractor quit the job.

 

Staff writers Bob von Sternberg and Chris Havens contributed to this report.

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