Thousands of southwest Minnesota residents could be without heat and light for another three days, and windshield washer fluid will be precious across the metro area as the state heads into another maddening, wintry April weekend.
In the Twin Cities, highs are expected to be only in the low 40s through the weekend and the possibility of snow appears in nearly every day’s forecast through Thursday. Monday is an exception.
A thumbnail look at recent events:
Every tree in town
In Worthington and other parts of southwest Minnesota, a fresh 7 inches of snow Wednesday into Thursday undid some of the gains by utility crews trying to restore power to thousands of residents after an ice storm Tuesday night. Worthington city Administrator Craig Clark said every tree in town had been damaged, if not destroyed, by the ice and then snow.
“It’ll change the community for a long time to come,” he said. “You can’t build back your tree inventory overnight.”
The city’s major manufacturing employers and fast-food restaurants were closed Thursday because of the power outage. The city was functioning with seven diesel generators and a “rolling blackout” scheme, cutting power to customers one hour at a time. Although trees had been dropping limbs for nearly three days, none had crashed through rooftops or caused injuries, Clark said.
Wet snow and ice in the Twin Cities metro area, accompanied by thunder, fouled the Thursday morning commute, knocking out Metro Transit’s light-rail service for several hours. The evening rush hour went more smoothly.
The official 3.7 inches of snow for the Twin Cities was far below what was expected, in part because temperatures were only briefly below freezing Thursday morning. But the snow and rain amounted to 0.7 inches of water.
Ortonville, in west-central Minnesota, got 13 inches of snow, the most in the state.
The State Patrol reported 296 crashes on state highways and 440 spinouts or slideoffs Thursday, but no fatalities.
In the path
In Duluth, the storm that passed across southern Minnesota met another that crossed northern Minnesota on Thursday; the merged system was expected to drop 4 to 6 inches of new snow there by Friday evening.
Ice and sleet left roads in southeast Minnesota slippery, and the state Transportation Department closed Hwy. 74, which runs through Whitewater State Park, because of flooding.
The Department of Natural Resources said that, statewide, it will close many roads and trails in state forests, state parks, recreation areas and wildlife management areas, because of to deteriorating conditions. They could remain closed until May. (May is less than three weeks away, experts say.)
In Minneapolis, Target Field ground crews were clearing the field and seating areas Thursday for the Twins’ weekend series with the New York Mets. Forecast for game time Friday: 34 degrees and rain.
About a dozen patients were hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center with injuries from falls on the ice, shoveling the heavy snow or other weather-related injuries.
Effect on business
Thursday’s snowfall sent a frenzy of customers to Beisswenger’s Hardware in New Brighton for sidewalk salt, shovels, and repairs to snowblowers worn from the seemingly never-ending winter. Employee Luke Larson sold three or four new snowblowers — a rarity for April.
“They’re getting harder to find,” he said, citing national hardware store chains that may be done stocking winter equipment.
On the other hand, things were quiet at Sea Salt Eatery in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, whose April opening with its large park patio is often viewed as a start of spring.
“We like to think so too, but the weather certainly hasn’t been cooperating,” manager Kyle Krueger said. “It’s pretty slow.”
Staff writers Kelly Smith, Paul Walsh, Joy Powell and Tim Harlow contributed to this report.