The snow might stop falling during the evening commute Wednesday, but its lingering effects, gusting winds and road closures will make for a testing trip home.
The National Weather Service (NWS) says snow should continue falling into early evening, with winds gusting up to 25 miles per hour.
Now throw in the mounting consequences of a snow-filled winter: Hwy. 101 over the steadily rising Minnesota River in Shakopee has been closed, the State Patrol said.
The flood-related closure between Flying Cloud Drive and downtown Shakopee, which happened as Wednesday's morning rush hour wrapped up, will last until "further notice," the patrol said.
Nearby Hwy. 41 was offered as a detour, however, that route will be closed at 7 p.m. Until further notice, Hwy. 41 will be closed north of Hwy. 169 in Chaska between approximately Dem Com Road and Flying Cloud Drive, according to MnDOT. The suggested detour is Hwy. 169, I-494 and Hwy. 212.
Two other Minnesota River bridges that are usually above flood waters - Hwy. 25 in Belle Plaine and Interstate 35W in Burnsville - are also being watched by MnDOT. "We have plans for each," Gillach said. "On I-35W, we are staged to build that dike if we need to."
Hwy. 41 carries 14,000 vehicles every day over the Minnesota River. Hwy. 101 sees 20,000 vehicles, Hwy. 169 gets 63,000, and the 35W crossing carries 102,000.
Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul was closed because of rising water levels on the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, which surround the park. The closure is indefinite, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
Several inches of snow had fallen by Wednesday morning, generally a few in the south metro but substantially more to the northwest of the Twin Cities.
By noon, snowfall totals collected by the NWS revealed this trend: the southern edge of the metro and below skirted much of the deeper accumulations, while points west and north of the Twin Cities were not so lucky.
Little Falls led the way with 10.3 inches. Then it was Alexandria (10.2), Hutchinson (9.5), St. Francis (9.0) and Andover (8.5). More shovel-friendly depths included New Hope (2.8), Burnsville (2.5) and Waseca (1.0).
By the end of the day, the Twin Cities area is forecast to get between 4 and 8 inches from the storm.
The morning commute's headaches were highlighted by a jacknifed semitrailer truck loaded with eggs putting the squeeze on traffic heading west on Interstate 94 near Mounds Boulevard in St. Paul.
From 5 to 9 a.m. statewide, according to the State Patrol, there were 111 crashes, with 15 injuries. Of those, 76 crashes and 13 injuries were in the metro area. Vehicles spinning out or going off the road totaled 190 across the state with about half of those on Twin Cities roads.
Public school closings largely followed the snowfall pattern, popping up west and north of the Twin Cities. They included: Elk River, St. Michael-Albertville, Cambridge-Isanti, Willmar, Albany, Alexandria, Dassel-Cokato, Fergus Falls, Hutchinson, St. Francis, St. Cloud and Monticello.
Once the snow stops in the Twin Cities area -- by late Wednesday afternoon, the Weather Service projects -- we'll have to put up with sub-freezing temperatures through most of the week.
Star Tribune staff writers Bill McAuliffe, Katie Humphrey and Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482