The City of Lakes became the City of Ice on Monday.
A thin coating has made walking and driving treacherous, turning simple walks into balancing acts, snarling commutes and keeping emergency rooms busy.
More dangerous and wintry weather arrived Tuesday for the Twin Cities, on the heels of last week’s polar vortex that shut down much of the region.
The Twin Cities is expected to get 3-5 inches of snow, tapering off into the evening with temperatures getting no higher than the teens and possibly dipping back below zero.
Then another round of snow is forecast to arrive late Wednesday into Thursday and is expected to drop 3-6 inches throughout the extended Twin Cities, according to meteorologist Tyler Hasenstein with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
“At least out through next week, we’re going to have typical February weather,” he said, adding that models predict a colder-than-average month.
The snow would add to roads already coated in a thin but sturdy sheath of ice that challenges rock salt and ice-melting pellets as well as driving skills. Statewide, the Minnesota State Patrol reported more than 250 crashes throughout the day.
Twin Cities hospitals said scores arrived in emergency departments Monday for treatment of sprains and assorted injuries due to slips on the ice. A spokeswoman said that their numbers represented a “huge uptick” over a normal day.
As of midafternoon, Regions Hospital in St. Paul had seen 70 such cases, and HCMC in Minneapolis had received more than 50 patients with injuries related to falling. At Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, medical personnel treated 25 falling victims, and another eight were treated at Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater.
The ice made the Monday morning commute treacherous by any method — car, transit or foot.
For Mackenzie Petrie, of Mendota Heights, it was just too much. After getting stuck on a Blue Line train that lost power at the 46th Street station for an hour and 20 minutes, she decided to just turn around and work from home.
“I called a neighbor to pick me up and bring me back to my car,” she said.
Megan Radke of Eagan, toughed out her commute. She boarded a train at the 28th Street Station in Bloomington and had to switch trains at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Then at 50th Street, she had to wait 45 minutes before gingerly completing a few ice skating moves as she shuffled across a slippery platform to board yet another train.
“I maybe did a double axel as I got to the other rail,” she said after arriving at her job at Capella University in downtown Minneapolis two hours late.
Ice built up on the overhead power lines and slippery tracks north of 46th Street prevented trains from getting up a slight incline, said spokesman Howie Padilla, who noted trains began moving around 8 a.m. but many were still delayed even at midmorning.
Metro Transit buses didn’t fare well either, with 48 percent of buses running an average of 11 minutes late as of 10 a.m., the agency said. SouthWest Transit said its on-demand transit service was facing delays on local streets.
Because of the tough conditions, all after-school activities were canceled Monday by the Minneapolis Public Schools.
Cancellations included most athletic activities, as well as all Early Childhood Family Education classes. District officials cited two factors: significant transportation delays experienced throughout the day and deteriorating weather conditions.
Classes started late in school districts such as Elk River, Forest Lake, Glencoe, Hudson, Wis., Lester Prairie, Monticello, St. Cloud, St. Francis, Wayzata, Westonka and White Bear Lake.
On the roads, crashes caused the State Patrol to remind drivers to exercise caution.
“Slow down, increase your following distance and give yourself extra time this morning,” the State Patrol said.
Off-limits: Minnehaha Falls
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board issued a unique plea: Do not walk behind Minnehaha Falls, or show pictures of people doing so on social media.
“Because of moving water, boulders, slippery slopes and other unsafe conditions, it is unsafe to access the base of the falls any time of year.”
University of Minnesota intern Isabella Murray and staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this report.