A cheery blue sky and unbroken sunlight played beauty to the beastly cold Saturday.
The dangerous subzero freeze created a nearly invisible dark sheen of ice that tricked and tripped up many drivers Saturday morning, especially on bridges and overpasses. Black ice led to many early-morning crashes, including one with two serious injuries on westbound Interstate 494 on the Minnesota River Bridge.
Congestion on the bridge continued for hours, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation real-time road incidents map. Crashes and spinouts were also reported on other metro roads, most frequently on freeways and highways, where speeds are higher.
Similar conditions Sunday morning could lead to continued problems.
Since last weekend, Minnesotans have seen a stretch of the kind of winter weather they live to complain about. On Saturday, a high of 6 below zero tied a 1976 record cold high temperature at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. And the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve is expected to be one of the coldest since 1886, meteorologists said.
Outside the metro area, northwest winds kicked up windchills and waves of snow wafting across highways and county roads. In International Falls, temperatures overnight Saturday were expected to fall to 36 below zero, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth. Sunday’s high there won’t get above 12 below.
It won’t be much warmer in the Twin Cities area. On Sunday, which will bring a Vikings home game and New Year’s Eve, the metro high will be about 7 below zero, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. When night falls, the mercury will head back down to around 14 below. The chill factor from west-northwest winds will be 27 below zero, according to the Weather Service.
New Year’s Day will bring a warm-up of sorts — a high near 1 degree above zero. Steady sunshine may create the illusion that it’s warmer, though. Tuesday will be warmer still, with a high in the teens. After Sunday, the forecast shows temperatures trending up, up, into the low 20s above zero.
Shelter and fuel
On Saturday, YouthLink, a downtown Minneapolis nonprofit that works with homeless young people, announced that it will be open Monday starting at 9 a.m. for people ages 16 to 24 who need somewhere to go during the cold weather. Staff will be on hand to offer food, clothing and conversation.
The cold weather prompted Gov. Mark Dayton to issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency that allows propane delivery drivers to work longer hours in the next week to 10 days to meet the increased demand for the fuel. More than 233,000 homes, farms and businesses rely on propane, including 3,300 hog and 3,746 poultry operations, the order said.
Wisconsin has taken a similar step.