Many roads across southwestern Minnesota that had been closed overnight slowly began to reopen Friday morning even as blizzard conditions continued to grip that part of the state, and snow continued to fall in the Twin Cities and across southern Minnesota.
As a storm that began Thursday rolled into its second day, heavy snow combined with ferocious winds created whiteouts and forced the Minnesota Department of Transportation to shut down Interstate 90 from Blue Earth to the South Dakota border. A portion of the freeway reopened Friday morning but a segment from Lakefield to the South Dakota border remained closed.
A few state highways, including Hwys. 71, 86 and 59 near the Iowa border, and some county roads were still shut down Friday morning. Plows pulled off the roads Thursday night were slowly returning in an effort to get the roads open, said MnDOT spokeswoman Anne Meyer.
"It was treacherous for our crews," she said, adding that plows statewide were still out in full force Friday to clear the snow. "We are not done yet."
Many roads in Kandiyohi County, which includes Willmar, have a layer of black ice and are slippery, MnDOT said. No travel was advised across southwestern Minnesota Friday morning, Meyer said.
In the metro, temperatures hovering around freezing kept snow totals down and left roads mainly wet and slushy, Meyer said. But slick spots did lead to a crash early Friday that had eastbound I-694 near Century Avenue in White Bear Lake closed for a short time.
The State Patrol responded to 47 crashes and 107 spinouts statewide from 9:45 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday. Troopers also reported three jackknifed semitrailer trucks.
In Rochester, a city bus unable to make it up an icy hill slid into a tree and then hit a deck attached to a house. Nobody in the home or on the bus was hurt, the city's fire department said.
Winds between 35 and 45 mph will continue to batter western and southwestern Minnesota Friday while bands of snow will move through the Twin Cities and along the I-35 and I-90 corridors, said National Weather Service senior meteorologist Joe Calderone.
A blizzard warning remained in effect until 6 p.m. Friday for an area stretching from west of Alexandria to Litchfield to Owatonna. A winter weather advisory was in effect for an area from Fergus Falls to St. Cloud to the Twin Cities and south to Rochester.
"There are still hazardous travel conditions out there," Calderone said. "You still want to exercise caution."
Snow totals were still coming in Friday morning. At 5 a.m., totals included 3.5 inches of snow in Apple Valley and 3 inches in Prior Lake and Maple Plain. The MSP Airport had seen only 2 inches as of midnight, but another 1 to 3 inches could fall through Friday afternoon, Calderone said.
Initial forecasts predicted heftier amounts in the metro, but higher temperatures, rain and a snow mixture with a high liquid content kept amounts down, he said.
Behind the storm, skies will be cloudy through Sunday with highs in the upper 20s, moderating to the low 30s by Wednesday.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768