Twin Cities Shellacked by Biggest Snowstorm in 7 Years

January 23, 2018 10:26 AM

Twin Citizens braved a harrowing evening commute Monday, dodging a rash of spin-outs, crashes and stuck vehicles throughout the metro.

Whiteout conditions across much of the area clogged roadways and caused accidents across the metro and southern Minnesota Monday. The State Patrol said that by 8:45 p.m. there were 231 crashes statewide, 435 spin-outs and 41 jackknifed semitrailers. Fourteen crashes involved injuries, and one was considered serious.


Both Minneapolis and St. Paul public school districts announced schools would be closed Tuesday. 

RELATED: Heavy Snow Causes Dozens of Flight Delays, Cancelations; Runways Closed at MSP Airport

Heavy snow and whiteout conditions continued in the Twin Cities until about 7 p.m. Monday 

More than 9 inches of snow had fallen at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by 8 p.m. in what amounted to the biggest snowstorm in two years. The record for Jan. 22 snowfall was set in 1982, when 17.2 inches fell at MSP.

An additional 1-2 inches would be possible in the metro until about 10 p.m., Yuhas said, at which point the snow would begin to taper. By mid-evening, 17 inches had fallen in Owatonna. Suburbs south and east of Minneapolis saw anywhere from 6 to 9 inches of snow, and those to the north and west saw anywhere from 4 to 8. 

The storm had a sharp cutoff, Yuhas said. Areas just to the west of Buffalo, Monticello and Elk River received little to no snow.

The Minnesota State Patrol said that between midnight Monday and 4:30 p.m., there had been 184 crashes, 298 spin-outs and 30 jacknifed semis statewide. Thirteen crashes involved injuries, though none were fatal. By midafternoon Monday, Minnesota Department of Transportation traffic cameras showed vehicles in the Twin Cities becoming stuck on snow-covered roads and many more spinning out.

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The State Patrol urged drivers to slow down and increase following distance; keep headlights on; give snowplows room; and check and heed travel advisories.

Places like Waseca, Owatonna and Northfield could see snow totals as high as 14-18 inches.

Meanwhile, MnDOT advised no travel to much of southern Minnesota as blizzard conditions persisted Monday. 

The department says at least 102 snowplows were on the roads in MnDOT's 11-county District 6, which covers much of southeastern Minnesota. The state closed Interstate 35 through Owatonna following a series of vehicle crashes that stopped traffic, a MnDOT release says.

At about 4 p.m., the department continued to advise no travel on I-35 from Highway 30 to the Elko/New Market exit north of Northfield, and along Highway 19 on either side of I-35.

"If motorists do not need to travel, it is best to stay off the roads," the release reads.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as many other metro cities, have declared snow emergencies

Metro Transit said that as of 4:30 p.m., 85 percent of buses were delayed for an average of 30 minutes. As for light rail, the Blue Line was running on time, but the Green Line was delayed by five to 10 minutes.

The National Weather Service reports a winter storm warning remains in effect until midnight for much of the metro and parts east; a blizzard warning remains in effect for much of south-central Minnesota until midnight, as well.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday afternoon issued an executive order that directs the state's National Guard to provide assistance and emergency relief services in 20 southern Minnesota counties, including Dakota, Carver and Sibley. The order came after Steele County officials requested use of the Owatonna Armory to shelter stranded motorists.

"With road conditions expected to worsen, it is likely that additional Minnesota counties may require the assistance of the Minnesota National Guard," the governor's office said in a release. 

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport had closed all four runways Monday, reopening one about 6:30 p.m., according to the MSP Airport Twitter feed.

Schools and community events around the metro and parts south have been canceled because of Monday's storm, including the Minnesota Twins Caravan stop in Oakdale scheduled for Monday. 


Michael Oakes

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