No joke winter storm leaves thousands without power, trees downed across Twin Cities

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Many are digging out Saturday following a heavy, wet snowfall across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Trees and power lines are down in several communities that received nearly a foot of snow.

The National Weather Service is reporting 8.5 inches of snow was measured at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as of 7 a.m.

Totals across the metro range from 6-12 inches. Meteorologist Chris Reece said the added overnight snow officially marks this season as the third-highest snow total of all time, just shy of 90 inches. A typical year of snowfalls is 51.2 inches, or about 3 feet less than we have received this year.

According to Xcel Energy’s power outage map, there are more than 30,000 customers without power in the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Overnight, Xcel says about 215,000 customers were impacted by this storm. By 8:30 a.m. Xcel said crews had restored service to 145,000.

In total, the outage impacted roughly 12% of Xcel Energy’s Minnesota and Wisconsin customers.

“We’ve been working all night, and we have about 70,000 remaining without power,” said Trisha Duncan, director of Minnesota community relations for Xcel Energy.

That number continues to be reduced, Duncan said in an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Saturday afternoon, adding she expected crews to make a significant dent Saturday night, but some affected customers across the metro and into western Wisconsin will likely be impacted into Sunday.

“We do have about 1,000 employees and contractors from over 10 states that are coming in or have been here to help with the restoration,” Duncan said. “So, it is a larger scale event.”

One of many trees downed by heavy, wet snow in Woodbury April 1, 2023. Courtesy of Eric Cilley

In Woodbury alone, the city says more than 50 trees have been reportedly knocked down.

Olester Benson and a tight-knit group of neighbors in Woodbury were hard at work Saturday morning to remove a tree blocking their street and some mailboxes.

“All of us have been on this block about 25 years,” he said. “When hard times come like this, the first thing that we do is try to come out and help our neighbors.”

It was the second tree of the day the four-member crew worked to clear, Benson said. 

“We’re all just paying it forward,” he added.

As the snow fell Friday night, a rare blizzard warning was in effect for the Twin Cities, creating treacherous driving conditions.

The Minnesota State Patrol says there were 346 crashes, 629 spinouts and 18 jackknifed semis from 4:30 p.m. Friday to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. No serious injuries were reported.

MnDOT plows are out working on the roads, which remain difficult in many areas. If you are heading out, check out the KSTP traffic map before you leave for the latest conditions.