A large swath of Minnesota got another rude slap of wintry weather Wednesday, with deadly consequences on an icy road east of Moorhead and with snow accumulating as far south as the metro area’s northern fringes.
The state’s midsection awoke to snow, with 7 inches measured by midafternoon in Isanti and Annandale, 6.5 inches near Big Lake, 5.3 in Hinckley, 5.1 in Forest Lake and 4 inches in Zimmerman, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
The metro was just seeing snow late Wednesday morning as the temperature struggled to stay above freezing, and that was enough for the Twins. The baseball team scrubbed its home game Wednesday night and paired it with Thursday’s matchup against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. Rain also was in the forecast during what would have been game time.
The evening commute for the Twin Cities could turn tricky, given the snow that started falling late Wednesday morning and was predicted to stretch into the afternoon and possibly turn to rain. By Thursday, there could be 1 to 2 inches on the ground, the NWS said.
In another sign of just what a frigid 2014 this has been, the opening of the commercial navigation season along the Mississippi River in Minnesota was declared Wednesday. This is the season’s latest start in the St. Paul District since 1970 and is being attributed to what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is calling “historic ice thickness” on Lake Pepin, south of Red Wing.
Dry roads greeted metro commuters in the morning, but to the north slick roads led to numerous spinouts and rollovers on Interstate 35 between snowy North Branch and Forest Lake as a moist mix coated roads with slush and ice.
Authorities closed the overpass on Hwy. 8 over Hwy. 61 in the Forest Lake/Wyoming area for a time as glare ice made the span too dangerous for vehicular traffic.
Motorists on Hwy. 65 in the Cambridge area also encountered difficult driving, with at least two rollovers reported just north of the city. A touch closer, in East Bethel, two crashes led to rollovers and other vehicles sliding off the road.
In west-central Minnesota, two big rigs got tangled in a pileup near Barnesville along eastbound I-94 about 4 a.m., with a 43-year-old driver from Moorhead dying, according to the patrol. Conditions were icy, the patrol added.
One of the semis, driven by the man who died, began passing the other rig. The lead semi “lost control” and crashed into the passing truck, according to the patrol. The dead man’s semi struck a guardrail and an overpass pillar.
To the west along I-94, the State Patrol tallied several vehicles failing to stay on the road, including a jackknifed semitrailer truck heading east with two trailers near Rothsay.
Elsewhere by Thursday, according to the weather service: About an inch was forecast for across most of southern Minnesota, 2 to 4 inches in the far northern metro and parts of central Minnesota, and then deeper depths looking to the north toward Duluth, which could see up to a foot by Thursday morning.