Four members of a family were killed Saturday in a two-vehicle crash on an icy highway in north-central Minnesota, the State Patrol reported.

The crash, which involved nine people, happened just after 3 p.m. on Hwy. 65 south of Hwy. 18, according to Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol.

The four people who were killed were all from Columbia Heights and traveling south on Hwy. 65 when their 2001 Mazda Tribute lost control on the snowpacked road, sliding sideways into the northbound lane, Nielson said. Killed were the 45-year-old man driving, his 40-year-old wife and two children ages 14 and 12, the patrol said.

Five people, all from McGregor, Minn., were in the second vehicle, a 1995 Chevrolet Suburban. They are Sarah Sample, 22, who was driving; her son, Jackson Sample, 2; Amanda R. Christiansen, 21; Nicholas J. Meyer, 26, and Kevin P. Meyer, 25.

The Samples, Christiansen and Nicholas Meyer were taken to FirstLight Hospital in Mora, Minn. The adults at the Mora hospital had serious injuries while the 2-year-old was unharmed, the patrol said. Kevin Meyer was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, also with serious injuries.

The tragedy came during a day of crashes and spinouts in areas across the state where 1 to 6 inches of snow fell Saturday.

Statewide, from midnight to around 4:30 p.m., there were 204 crashes, including the fatality and 19 others with injuries, Nielson said. There also were 224 spinouts or vehicles going off roads.

As darkness fell, travel continued to be slow and hazardous, especially to the west and north of the metro.

Vikings fans brace for cold

No precipitation is expected to fall on Minnesota Vikings fans flocking to TCF Stadium for Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. game against the New York Giants. But they’ll want to bundle up against a night colder than we’ve had in some time, with a low expected in the single digits.

Another, bigger storm will arrive in the area Monday night into Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecaster Paul Douglas tweeted that Saturday’s storm could be just an “appetizer” before the “main course” — a storm that could bring up to a foot of snow to southern Minnesota, including the metro area, late Monday. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for Monday afternoon shortly after canceling a similar advisory for Saturday.

Cold here to stay awhile

All day Saturday, plows were out in force around the state, according to Kevin Gutknecht, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. “Avoid the crash — slow down,” he cautioned in a tweet.

Travel was especially slow and precarious between Duluth and the Twin Cities and on most roads to the west and southwest of the Twin Cities, like the one in Aitkin County where the fatal crash occurred.

The snow that fell Saturday and to come Monday night will stick around. Colder air from Canada will last at least until New Year’s Day, according to the Weather Service.

Temperatures are expected to fall Sunday and most of next week to highs in the 20s and lows in the teens. The cold trend will carry into January.

By late Saturday and increasingly into next week, the ground will be well-covered. New Year’s in Minnesota will, indeed, be white.