A dusting of snow was all it took to bring Wednesday's morning commute to a crawl. Icy roads led to scores of crashes as drivers had to readjust to winter conditions.
Many apparently didn't as they slid off roads or ran into guardrails or other motorists.
Between 4 and 10:30 a.m., the State Patrol handled 174 crashes statewide and responded to 86 drivers who spun out or left the road. More than 20 traffic-related injuries were reported in the incidents, most of which occurred in the Twin Cities and Rochester, the patrol said.
It was slow going across the metro all morning as commuters struggled to gain traction on slippery roads caused by the first measurable snowfall in recent weeks.
Metro Transit buses were also running behind on 60 percent of the agency's routes. The average delay was 13 minutes around 8:30 a.m., the agency said. Some riders reported buses were struggling to make it up hills coated with glare ice. By midday, most routes were back on schedule.
Freeways were drying off by midday Wednesday, but earlier wrecks began with a mishap that clogged southbound Hwy. 100 from Robbinsdale into Golden Valley around 6:30 a.m. Fender benders, spin outs and rollovers plagued drivers elsewhere, including on southbound Hwy. 61 at Carver Avenue in St. Paul. By 8:45, traffic continued to crawl along I-94 in both directions and along Hwys. 100 and 169 in the west metro.
Snowplows were dispatched to clear and treat the roads, but MnDOT still warned drivers to take it easy.
"Look out for icy bridges. Ramp conditions could vary from the main roadway," the Minnesota Department of Transportation said. "Expect delays. Slow down and leave space between vehicles."
In a nod to the red-hot Minnesota Wild hockey team, Eagan Police tweeted that "roads are very icy. It looks like they have been "Zambonied" and are playoff ready."
Roads might get a help from above freezing temperatures forecast for Wednesday. A high of 35 degrees is expected, but there is another chance — about 20 percent — of light snow by late afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768