Frigid weather that could break temperature records will move into Minnesota this weekend on the heels of a snowstorm that led to hundreds of crashes on roads across the Twin Cities and beyond.
About 3 to 6 inches of snow fell through the day and into the evening Friday across a wide swath of southern and central Minnesota. The higher snow totals of 5 or 6 inches were mostly concentrated in the Twin Cities metro area, with 5.6 inches at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Maple Grove reporting 6.5 inches, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen said. St. Cloud saw 3.9 inches, Red Wing 3.5 and Rochester 3.
The city of St. Paul declared a snow emergency, its sixth in five weeks. Minneapolis did not declare a snow emergency Friday, but winter parking restrictions remain in effect.
The snow created hazardous conditions for drivers, especially during the evening rush hour. The northbound lanes of Interstate 35W near Circle Pines were shut down in late afternoon after up to 40 crashes and spinouts. The lanes reopened about 5:30 p.m., but the state Department of Transportation warned that roads would remain treacherous across a large portion of south and central Minnesota into Saturday.
The city of Wyoming Police Department reported “dozens of vehicles in the ditch” between the Wyoming and Stacy exits from I-35 and shared a photo on Twitter showing crashed cars and trucks spread across all lanes and shoulders of the freeway.
The State Patrol reported that from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., there were 389 crashes statewide, 40 with injuries and none fatal. There were also 428 vehicle spinouts and five jackknifed semitrailer trucks.
Metro Transit reported many delays in evening bus and train service. Green Line service was briefly halted between the Union Depot and the 10th Street station in St. Paul because of a crash.
The snowstorm also affected air travel. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport tweeted that because of snow and ice removal work, some arrivals were being delayed by up to two hours. The airport urged passengers and those waiting for them to check on specific flights online.
No sign of spring
Friday marked the end of meteorological winter, the Weather Service wryly noted on its Twitter feed. It explained that meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle, while astronomical seasons are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun.
Be that as it may, there were no signs of spring in Minnesota Friday, and none in next week’s forecast, either.
Saturday’s high in the metro area will be near 20, with northwest winds 5 to 10 mph. There’s a 20 percent chance of snow before 7 p.m. Saturday, the Weather Service said.
Sunday will be sunny but cold, with a high near 3 and windchill values as low as 25 below. The temperature will fall to 10 below Sunday night.
Record cold temperatures are likely on Sunday and Monday, the Weather Service said. The record low for March 3 (Sunday) at the airport is 13 below, and the lowest high ever recorded on that day is 6 above. The record low for March 4 (Monday) at the airport is 22 below, with the lowest high recorded for that day 8 above.
When will it stop snowing? Not anytime soon. According to the Weather Service, more snow is possible Thursday into Friday in the metro area.
Austen Macalus, a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune, contributed to this report.