Operations were returning to normal Tuesday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport following a day on which travelers experienced lengthy delays due to high winds. A handful of passengers didn’t get out at all.
On Monday, 79 flights were canceled and 472 were delayed at the state’s largest airport, which was forced to limit arrivals and departures to a single runway that is pressed into service only during inclement weather.
By 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, with all runways open, only 10 flights at MSP had been scrubbed and 11 delayed, according to FlightAware.com.
“We spent most of the day [Monday] catching up,” said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. By Tuesday, he said, “We are well on our way to recovery.”
Motorists were also seeing slight improvements on the roads across the region. By late Monday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation lifted no-travel advisories that had been in place in the Red River Valley and across the northern third of the state. But the transportation agency warned drivers to be ready to encounter slick spots as roads on Tuesday remained snow- and ice-covered in northwestern Minnesota and partly covered across the western portion of the state.
Travel remained difficult in North Dakota, which continues to dig out after more than a foot of snow fell in some places and blizzard conditions forced the shutdown of major highways.
Late Monday night, authorities opened I-94 between Jamestown and Fargo and on Tuesday opened the segment between Jamestown and Dickinson. Travel was still treacherous, however, as blowing snow limited visibility, the state’s Department of Transportation said.
In South Dakota, Interstate 90 was back open after being closed most of Monday. The state’s transportation department echoed the warnings put out by its neighbor to the north, urging drivers to use caution as many roads remained ice- and snow-packed. Motorists were reminded to have a winter survival kit with them, slow down and wear their seat belts.
The combination of rain, freezing rain and snow that marched across the Upper Midwest was accompanied by high winds. 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 drivers, especially those in 18-wheelers and panel trucks.
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 and gutters instead of shovels. 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.
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.
The copious rain 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.”
By Wednesday, calmer conditions will settle over the area and persist through New Year’s Day, the National Weather Service said. The rest of the week will bring temperatures in the 20s and 30s, the weather service said. Thursday could be windy again, but not as wild as Monday.