Winter-weary Minnesotans will get a break Wednesday from a barrage of snowstorms that has made this February one of the snowiest on record.
Sunshine is on tap after a storm on Tuesday blanketed the metro with 4 to 6 inches. A chance of more snow on Thursday has diminished to a mere “nuisance” amount if any falls at all, said Chris O’Brien, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
Despite clearer skies, drivers may still see the storm’s effects as crews continue to clear the roads. Minneapolis and St. Paul and a host of suburbs declared snow emergencies Tuesday to make room for plows to work.
Schools, such as Anoka-Hennepin, were closed, citing unplowed roads and sidewalks as the reason for calling off classes. In St. Paul, school was on but most after-school activities were canceled.
The State Patrol, which responded to 181 crashes and 297 vehicles spun out or in the ditch overnight Monday to Tuesday, warned drivers to take it easy.
“Snow doesn’t cause crashes. Poor driving decisions cause crashes,” the patrol said.
The patrol also pleaded with drivers to slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles. Nine of its squads have been hit by passing motorists this month, leading to five injuries.
Plows have been in their share of mishaps, too. More than 40 State Department of Transportation plows have been hit this season, including one Tuesday morning on Interstate 35E at Hwy. 36 in Maplewood.
The Twin Cities has seen measurable snow on six of the first 12 days in February, and trace amounts were recorded on two days when it technically didn’t snow. That has brought the month’s snowfall to 21.9 inches, ranking it the fourth-snowiest February on record. The most snow ever received in the month in the Twin Cities metro was 26.5 inches in 1962.
On Tuesday, the 5.6 inches that fell at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and 7.7 inches at Eau Claire, Wis., set daily snowfall records for Feb. 12. With Tuesday’s snowfall, the Twin Cities is now 2½ inches above normal for the season.
Minneapolis crews have worked back-to-back 12-hour shifts for the past week to keep up with the snow, said spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie. The city has been paying drivers overtime. The city has $11.5 million budgeted for snow removal, but it’s too early to tell if that will be enough, she said.
MSP has fared pretty well despite the weather, said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. There were about 24 cancellations and about 50 delayed flights, he said.
Green Line trains were delayed by about 10 minutes after a car slid into a train at Rice Street and University Avenue in St. Paul around 8 a.m. No one was hurt, and trains were back on schedule a short time later, Metro Transit said.
But weather observers won’t need their rulers for several days, said Brent Hewett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. Outside of a chance for a light dusting of snow Thursday and Saturday, the weather pattern looks to remain dry, but cooler than average.
“We dry out and we will see some sun tomorrow,” Hewett said Tuesday. But it won’t last. “We see an uptick in precipitation late next week.”