A mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow pelted the Twin Cities on Tuesday, slowing rush hour traffic and dumping heavy, wet snow through the night to mark the return of winter after a stretch of unseasonably balmy weather.
The storm was expected to leave total accumulations of 3 to 6 inches across the metro area, slightly less than what was originally forecast, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tyler Hasenstein.
"Early on it was kind of a mixture of everything," said Hasenstein, noting that the storm cut a line across the Twin Cities when it arrived. Sleet and snow dropped on the western half of the metro area, while more freezing rain and sleet fell to the east.
Snow totals across Minnesota depended on the track of the storm, the Weather Service warned, saying some isolated areas could see more accumulation.
The abrupt return to winter halts a streak of well-above-normal temperatures, which included a high of 66 degrees on Monday and a month that has produced five days with temperatures reaching 72 degrees and up.
The roads quickly turned slick when the storm hit Tuesday evening. The Minnesota State Patrol reported 104 crashes (11 with injuries), 28 vehicle spinouts and four jackknifed semitrailers statewide by 4:30 p.m.
A winter storm warning was issued for an area stretching from Mankato to the Twin Cities and north of Hayward, Wis., while a winter weather advisory for smaller amounts of snow was issued for adjacent counties.
Tuesday's storm arrives as the Weather Service marks Winter Hazard Awareness Week to promote safety and encourage people to prepare for snow, cold and ice at home, on the roads and whenever outside.
"Unfortunately, many people each year suffer needlessly because they are unaware of the potential dangers of the winter season," the Weather Service said.
Behind Tuesday's storm, the forecast calls for sunny or mostly sunny skies with highs in the 30s Wednesday through Friday with a slight chance of snow Thursday. Temperatures could hit 40 on Saturday, the Weather Service said.
Staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this report.