Nearly 1,000 Crashes Statewide Since Start of Storm, Some Metro Roads Improving

Updated: 02/22/2014 5:28 PM
Created: 02/21/2014 5:38 PM
By: Ellen Galles

With the help of sun and salt, some freeways and roads around the metro are starting to show improvement Saturday afternoon.

While some roads are clearing up, others still remain snow packed and icy from Thursday's snow storm. Officials say it may be a few days until the roads are completely clear.

Since the storm began, state troopers say have responded to 964 crashes, 2,324 vehicles off the road or spin outs, 1,082 stalled vehicles, 74 jack-knifed semis, 52 motorist needing help, and 4,414 total calls for service. Those figures were released Saturday afternoon by the state patrol.

A car crash on Interstate 494 East at Portland Avenue backed up traffic in the afternoon, according to KSTP's Tom Hauser. Traffic is reduced to one lane while fire crews and first responders work to put out a car fire after a collision around 3:30 p.m.

MnDOT had crews on the road before the rain began Thursday to pre-treat. But all the snow and ice is now compressed and it's slippery. "What MnDOT is doing now is we're getting out there and putting down salt. Salt is going to be what makes this work," Kevin Guknecht of MnDOT said. 

MnDOT says the salt they use works great when it's 20 degrees and above. But when the temperature dips below 20 this is when they start having some problems. meteorologist Jonathan Yuhas says, the only thing that's going to help is the sun.

However he said the bad news is, once the sun goes down all that melting is going refreeze.

He said roads may not completely improve until next weekend due to the up coming cold temperatures and more snow on the way for Monday.

The commute on Friday, for those who braved the roads, was another one that tested patience.

This was an especially grueling snow event for semi-truck drivers.  According to a spokesperson for the Minnesota State Patrol, they've responded to at least 62 truck jack knives in a 24-hour period, which is an unusually high amount. The number will grow higher.

Westbound Interstate 94, outside the tunnel in Minneapolis, was backed up Friday night around 9 p.m. At one point, about five semis were stuck on the side of the road, which caused a major back up. It happened near Groveland Avenue, which is just west of Interstate 35W.

During rush hour Friday, both east and westbound transition ramps from Highway 62 to Highway 100 North were closed, because of stuck semis on the ramps. Traffic was backed up for miles on the Crosstown.

The problem trucks were facing was the sheet of ice on the roads. The trucks are big and heavy if they stop on a ramp or incline they can't get going again.  On Friday morning, drivers were forced to find their way around the big rigs.

"I just tried to go up a ramp onto 280, but a truck was blocking the way....and now I'm stuck," Josh Nordeen from Plymouth said.

Tow truck drivers are doing their part to clear wrecks, stalled and spun out vehicles from the roads.Drivers are being urged to slow down around them and let them work. One tow truck driver tells KSTP he has been nearly hit about two dozen times while trying to do his job.

Some Minnesotans are still digging out from the latest blast of winter.

While the official snow total in the Twin Cities was 9.9 inches, northeastern Minnesota saw far more. The National Weather Service reported 14.5 inches in Alborn, 13 inches in Twig and 11 inches in Proctor.
National Weather Service chief meteorologist Dan Luna in Chanhassen says the 55.5 inches total accumulation so far this year in the Twin Cities is 16.2 inches above normal.

See statewide road conditions here.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

Broken Clouds
37° | 28°
  • Feels like: 27° F
  • Wind: WSW 8mph
  • Humidity: 82%
  • Tue A few clouds
    36° | 26°
  • Wed Considerable cloudiness
    42° | 28°
  • Thu Morning clouds followed by afternoon sun
    30° | 15°
  • Fri Snow developing during the afternoon
    24° | 5°