Gusty winds died down slightly at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by late Monday afternoon, but they remained strong enough to force planes to take off and land on just one runway, airport officials said.
Delays of at least 15 to 30 minutes were common, said spokesman Patrick Hogan. Still, that’s better than an hour or more delay earlier in the day.
“Planes have to take off and land into the wind, so when you have gusty winds … it limits us to using the crosswind runway,” he said.
Runways are dry and in good shape, Hogan said, but operations are pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature, at least for now.
By noon, more than 50 flights in and out of the Twin Cities had been canceled, while 248 had been delayed.
It is expected to get better. Tony Zaleski, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said winds were gusting at 38 miles per hour in Minneapolis and across the Twin Cities area at 4 p.m., much lower than the 45 to 60 mph winds of the morning hours.
Redwood Falls reported wind gusts of 66 mph, with 52 at St. James and 60 in Victoria in eastern Carver County. High winds and wind gusts directly affect not just planes but drivers, too, especially those in 18-wheelers and panel trucks.
By Monday evening, winds were throttling back to 15 to 25 mph and decreasing even more to 10 to 15 mph after midnight, Zaleski said.
Driving conditions across the state varied, with few problems reported in the southeast corner of the state. But snow-covered and icy roads across the northern half of Minnesota were making for treacherous travel, the Department of Transportation said.
In the metro, the biggest issue was a water main break that forced the closure of Hwy. 244 at Crocus Street in Mahtomedi, MnDOT said.
Both MnDOT and the State Patrol advised drivers to slow down on the roads.
Christmas Day brought nearly an inch of rain overnight in the metro area and made 2016 the wettest year on record. It came down in sheets at times and filled gauges with liquid precipitation at a time when snow is more common. Hastings had the most, collecting 1.72 inches of rain.
Other places that saw over an inch included Roseville with 1.28, Plymouth with 1.14 and Chaska with 1.10, the Weather Service said.
About 4,700 Xcel Energy customers were without power in the Twin Cities late Monday morning. That dropped to a handful by evening.
Back at MSP, the official site for metro area weather observations, 0.97 inches fell. But that was enough to push the yearly total to 40.32 inches, breaking the old record of 40.15 set in 1911.
Little in the way of storm damage was reported across the state, NWS meteorologist Shawn Devinny said. But accumulating ice and snow hampered travel in the Brainerd area and led to freeways being shut down in North and South Dakota, where some places saw more than a foot of snow and blizzard conditions.
I-94 was closed in both directions from the Montana border to Fargo except in the Dickinson and Bismarck/Mandan metro areas, due to snow and ice on roadways, the North Dakota Department of Transportation said.
The copious rains and mild temperatures over the past two days have combined to create unsafe ice conditions. A fish house broke through the ice on South Lindstrom Lake, prompting the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office to warn people to “think twice before venturing out.”
Winds subsided as the day wore on. By Tuesday, calmer conditions will settle over the area and persist right through New Year’s Day.
“The rest of the week looks quiet and normal,” Devinny said, saying temperatures in the 20s and 30s and little snow were in the forecast.