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Blast of snow, ice makes for slick roads throughout state

April 11, 2019 09:16 PM

The mix of snow and freezing drizzle that began falling Wednesday afternoon continued into Thursday, making for a difficult drive throughout the state.

Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency, ordering the National Guard to provide assistance and emergency relief services as needed to stranded motorists.

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Early Thursday evening, the state patrol said Interstate 94 from Moorhead to Osakis and Highway 10 from Moorhead to Audubon were closed due to dangerous driving conditions.

Officials in Dodge County said late Thursday afternoon that a state of emergency had been declared there. A total of 4,340 homes in the county were said to be without power.

Steele County Emergency Management said an Emergency Shelter has been set up at the National Guard in Owatonna for the many Steele County residents without electricity and heat. 

Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management said the storm caused numerous power outages and downed trees. Some of those reports include:

  • Lyon County reports downed trees in the City of Marshall. Emergency managers are monitoring hotel vacancies in the event drivers become stranded. They have partnered with the Marshall Area YMCA to allow drivers to shelter there during the storm. 
  • Freeborn County has declared a local emergency and reports up to 9,000 power outages as repaired power poles are snapping a second time due to the wind. 
  • Houston County reports that power went out to the majority of the county around noon Thursday including the cities of La Crescent, Hokah, Houston, Caledonia and Eitzen.
  • McLeod County has issued a no travel advisory as snow plow drivers are experiencing low visibility and snow drifts over roads. County offices closed at noon.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation said Interstate 29 was closed from Fargo south to the South Dakota border.

KSTP Chief Meteorologist Dave Dahl said eight inches of snow had been recorded at MSP International by Thursday afternoon.

He said the temperature slid into the upper 20s Thursday morning, causing slush from Wednesday to freeze solid.

Dahl said another round of light rain and snow is expected to move in Thursday night, and an inch or so of additional snow can be expected. He said that could again produce icy conditions Friday morning, though probably not as bad as Thursday.

Patrick Hogan, the Director of Public Affairs and Marketing for the Metropolitan Airport Commission, said Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport had experienced around 500 cancellations Thursday. And he said high winds had forced the airport down to just one runway.

The Duluth Airport Authority said several flights bound for the Twin Cities were diverted there.

The winter weather has already caused the Minnesota Twins to announce that Friday night's game against the Detroit Tigers - which had been scheduled for 7:10 p.m. at Target Field - has been postponed. It will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on May 11.

The University of Minnesota football team announced Wednesday night that Saturday's spring game has been moved from TCF Bank Stadium to the team's indoor football facility at Athletes Village.


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The winter weather Thursday also brought thundersnow.

The Isanti County Sheriff's Office even reported that deputies and members of the Isanti Fire District responded to a call of a lightning strike that had started a shed on fire.

In a tweet, the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities said some in the area might have noticed a tan or orange tint to the latest snow. The NWS said that was likely due to dust blown by high winds all the way from Texas.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Transportation advised drivers to watch out for icy bridges, ramps and roads as well as drifting snow reducing visibility.

Via Twitter, Sgt. Jesse Grabow, the public information officer for the state patrol in northwestern, west central and central Minnesota, said early Thursday afternoon that troopers were "responding to more jackknifed semis than I can remember - most of which the trailers are empty or light loads. With the wind and road conditions it's not going well so please use some good discretion."

Around 11:30 a.m., the state patrol said both directions of Interstate 94 were closed between Clearwater and the St. Augusta area as a result of 'several' crashes involving semis. Authorities said no injuries were involved.

The lanes were reopened just over an hour later when the scene was cleared.

Earlier Thursday morning, the state patrol repopened portions of Highway 52 that had been shut down. Those portions included northbound 52 at County Road 47 and northbound 52 at Concord Boulevard.

MnDOT also reported downed power lines affected travel along Interstate 90 west of Jackson, Highway 60 near Wilder, Highway 86 south of Lakefield, Highway 71 south of Jackson and along Highway 59 between Worthington and Fulda.

KSTP Meteorologist Sam Ryan, filling in for Traffic Reporter Josie Smith, said a jackknifed semi caused significant delays along eastbound Interstate 94 near Monticello early Thursday morning. Ryan said the interstate was shut down as a result and traffic was being diverted.

Ryan also said there were a number of spinouts Thursday morning, including along I-94, Interstate 394, Interstate 494, Interstate 35E and Highway 169.

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Credits

Rebecca Omastiak

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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