Updated: 01/28/2014 6:23 AM
Created: 01/27/2014 4:47 PM KSTP.com
By: Leslie Dyste
This extreme cold snap is impacting drivers on Minnesota roads. There have been plenty of stranded drivers- which means possible long wait times for help.
Governor Dayton Issues Emergency Order
Gov. Mark Dayton has issued an emergency order to help stranded motorists caught in Minnesota's cold wave.
Dayton declared a state of emergency Monday. He called on Minnesota's adjutant general to activate any military personnel needed to help motorists. Dayton noted that a winter storm caused whiteout conditions and dangerous wind chills Sunday in central and southern Minnesota.
He says several sheriffs asked for help from the Minnesota National Guard to recover and shelter stranded motorists.
AAA Responds to Stranded Drivers
A big issue drivers are facing is dead batteries. AAA in Minneapolis was very busy Monday with 430 calls for roadside assistance, just in the morning hours alone.
Operators were swamped at the roadside assistance call center. Managers say they have had an average wait time of 90 minutes to 2 hours all day.
Outside of the metro in more rural areas, drivers have had to wait 2 to 4 hours for some attention. However, those in precarious situations were given first priority.
"For those who are on the side of the road who are stranded, we're going to bump those people up on the priority list. If you're at home, somewhere that's safe and warm, then you're probably going to wait a little bit longer," Garrison McMurtrey with AAA in Minneapolis said.
MnDOT Crews Treating the Roads
Black ice usually occurs during the morning drive. But, according to a Minnesota Department of Transportation manager, during really cold nights car exhaust can freeze on the roads, so even during the evening commute it's important to drive slowly because you won't be able to detect black ice until it's too late.
MnDOT plows in the Twin Cities Metro have been out in full force since Friday. Managers say they plan to keep all crews on deck until at least Tuesday at 8 a.m.
The issue MnDOT crews are dealing with the most is drifting snow across ramps and open spots like fields, lakes and swampy areas. Crews are out making sure they clear the blowing snow away from guard rails and concrete walls under bridges.
They reported seeing a lot of spin-outs in the shadows underneath bridges in the morning.
MnDOT managers say sand is being used to cover the slippery areas. Once the pavement's temperatures are colder than 5 below zero, many of their chemicals don't work well.
Monday Night Closures
Interstate 35E northbound out of downtown St. Paul closed Monday night due to an accident. In Minneapolis, Interstate 35W over the Mississippi River was also backed up due to an accident. Both roadways have since reopened. At this point, it's unclear if the accidents were weather related.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.