Frustration and snow piled up as a record-breaking winter storm dropped 15 inches across parts of the Twin Cities over the weekend, shutting down roads, the airport and even church services.
As plows struggled to keep up with the relentless snow, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin were among the school districts canceling classes Monday.
Hundreds of flights were canceled Saturday and Sunday at the Twin Cities airport, which shut down completely for eight hours Saturday.
Commuters will get a reprieve for the next couple of days, but a slushy mix, with snow possible, is likely Wednesday.
On Sunday, traffic moved slowly and spinouts and fender-benders were frequent. Many side streets remained clogged and two fatalities were reported on Twin Cities roadways.
The bulk of the snow fell Saturday, canceling Guthrie shows, Twins games and dozens of weekend church services. One church offered an online service instead.
For some, it was just too much.
“I’ve lived in Minnesota for 47 years,” Justin Halverson said as he shoveled his south Minneapolis sidewalk. “For the first time ever, I understand why people want to move away.”
For Teran Melton, winter has overstayed its welcome. “I know it comes with the territory, but I’m done with it now,” she said while shoveling. “It doesn’t seem quite right for mid-April.”
Deemed “historic” by the National Weather Service, the mid-spring blizzard toppled two snow-related records set in 1983, including one for the snowiest April and a second for the largest single snowstorm for the month.
“This is a record-breaking storm for April,” said Eric Ahasic, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It’s not a top-ten-ever [storm] for the Twin Cities, but it’s close.”
By Sunday morning, 25.2 inches of snow had fallen for the month, beating the 1983 record of 21.5 inches for April. And from Friday afternoon to Sunday night, 14.9 inches had fallen at the airport, toppling the 1983 record of 13.6 inches for a single April snowstorm.
Later, the Weather Service said a third record was broken: “As of this evening we’re sitting at 70.3 inches of snow at Minneapolis/St. Paul since Jan. 1. This sets a new record for the all-time snowiest start to a calendar year in the Twin Cities!”
Snow totals across the metro ranged from 12 to 16 inches. Chanhassen had 16.1 inches, with Prior Lake and Maplewood measuring 16. Northeast Minneapolis totaled 15.5 inches.
‘A tough weekend’ at MSP
Over the weekend, the blizzard collapsed a sports dome and caused hundreds of car accidents as plows struggled to keep up with the accumulation.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport struggled during this weekend’s storm, closing down all four runways Saturday for eight hours. Despite 100 pieces of equipment trying to clear the runways of snow, they just couldn’t keep up, said Patrick Hogan, airport spokesman.
A total of 753 flights were canceled over the weekend. Hogan said passengers waited an average of six hours on Sunday.
“Obviously it’s very frustrating for travelers,” Hogan said. “It’s been a very tough weekend.”
In its announcement about closing its schools, the Minneapolis school district said it will be difficult for buses to get down side streets and children might be hard to see behind snowbanks.
Between early Friday and Sunday afternoon, the State Patrol reported 630 crashes statewide, 69 with injuries. Crashes in Brainerd and St. Cloud resulted in serious injuries. One fatality was reported Friday in Medina but it wasn’t clear if it was weather-related.
On Sunday afternoon, a car and a Metro Transit bus collided on eastbound Interstate 94 near Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis, killing one person and injuring two. The car spun out and the bus, following behind, struck the car, according to the State Patrol.
In addition, 1,182 vehicles either spun out or slid off roads, and 20 semitrailer trucks jackknifed. And it may not be over yet.
“The winter season just refuses to end!” the Weather Service tweeted Sunday morning. “That’s right — another “wintry mix of precipitation” is headed our way, it said.
Snow is more likely for Wednesday than Tuesday, with sunny skies and high temperatures around 40 degrees both days, Ahasic said.
“It’s not looking like anything major,” Ahasic said. “Kind of more of a nuisance than anything.”
The highest snowfall amounts — in the 4- to 6-inch range — are expected in southwest Minnesota, he said, an area that was already hit hard by snow this weekend. “That’s just kind of adding insult to injury down there,” he said.
Making the best of it
Echoing the exhaustion that many residents felt, the weight of accumulating snow caused the sports dome in Vadnais Heights to collapse between Saturday night and Sunday morning. It’s expected to be out of commission for the rest of the season.
But not everyone was bemoaning the powder. On Sunday, the Loppet Foundation announced that it was taking advantage of the snowfall, planning a last-minute 10K pop-up race for Monday morning at Theodore Wirth Park.
Organizers of the Pioneer Midwest April Classic Loppet apparently have a sense of humor about the unseasonable weather, which was scheduled to “celebrate our extended January.” Winners will receive a golden shovel.
Istanbul Ali was on her way to visit friends in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on Sunday. She said she liked the snow — and anyway, we don’t have a choice with weather. “It’s beautiful,” she said.
Maura Hamilton said she usually loves the snow, but April was a little too late for her. “It’s also completely snowed me in,” Hamilton said. “The light rail is the only way I can get anywhere.”