Snow makes Minnesota travel conditions treacherous
- Article by: MIKE CRONIN
- Associated Press
- February 21, 2014 - 10:20 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The snow globe has stopped in Minnesota, leaving more than a foot of snow in some places for residents to dig out before the below-zero temperatures move in next week.
Friday's daytime low dropped to 7 degrees, making this winter the 11th coldest winter on record, National Weather Service chief meteorologist Dan Luna in Chanhassen said. The average temperature has been 10.3 degrees.
"Much of the population of this state has never seen a winter this cold," he said, and temperatures overnight Friday into Saturday will hover around zero. By Wednesday, the low will drop to about 15 below.
While the official snow total in the Twin Cities was 9.9 inches, northeastern Minnesota saw far more. The National Weather Service reported 14.5 inches in Alborn, 13 inches in Twig and 11 inches in Proctor.
The 55.5 inches total accumulation so far this year in the Twin Cities is 16.2 inches above normal, Luna said.
The storm, which started Thursday night and stopped Friday, severely affected travel, so much so that the Minnesota State Patrol advised motorists throughout the state to stay off the roads.
"We're receiving reports from veteran troopers in several areas of the state of conditions that are as bad as they've seen in 25 years," said State Patrol Lt. Col. Matt Langer.
Schools closed Friday in the state's three largest districts: Anoka-Hennepin, Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The storm's high winds knocked out power to nearly 50,000 Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota, company spokesman Tom Hoen said.
By late Friday night, he said, 95 percent of those customers will have their power restored. The rest will see electricity restored by noon Saturday.
The Minnesota State Patrol closed southbound Interstate 35 from Owatonna to the Iowa border shortly after 1 a.m. Friday because of numerous accidents and stranded vehicles, and the stretch of southbound I-35 from Owatonna to Albert Lea remained closed Friday night. Troopers dealt with scores of accidents, including a deadly one in Wabasha County, in which the driver of a van was killed after colliding with a semi on ice-covered Highway 42.
Though Interstate 94 remained open between Minneapolis and St. Paul, traffic was at a standstill during Friday morning rush hour, as drivers tried to gain traction on the ice hidden by the fresh snow.
The storm that started Thursday night brought the biggest one-time snowfall total of this long and brutal winter to the Twin Cities.
In south Minneapolis, nearly a foot of snow on side streets and alleys had not been plowed by late Friday morning, leaving many residents stranded.
"I'm planning to ski to work today," said Josh Houdek, a program manager at the Sierra Club, as he shoveled out his driveway. Underneath was a thick layer of ice.
"This is like trying to shovel concrete," Houdek said.
University of Minnesota employee Karen Haselmann, 49, searched her memory for a comparably brutal season.
"I ride my bike to work most days," Haselmann, a technician in the art department, said. "I pride myself on having all the right gear and everything. But this winter has kicked my butt."
More than 250 people spent the night in Minnesota shelters, officials said.
Charles Barklind, 69, trudged downhill on Cedar Street in St. Paul, carrying two newspaper bags. Barklind had walked two and a half miles to work before dawn, only to find out that the community newspaper he was supposed to deliver hadn't arrived.
"So, they sent me home," said Barklind, who had silver duct tape wrapped around black rubber boots, a blue cloth strip across his nose and an orange balaclava around his head.
"I'm comfortable in the cold. And I had some consolation: I got my paycheck," he said.
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