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April winter blast hits Minnesota; travel on state's roads impacted

April 10, 2019 10:18 PM

With temperatures in the 60s earlier this week, many metro area residents were preparing for the long-awaited arrival of spring weather.

Now, they're dealing with another blast of snow.

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KSTP Chief Meteorologist Dave Dahl said the Twin Cities could expect 2 to 3 inches by Wednesday night, followed by rain and sleet Thursday, and the possibility of 1 to 2 more inches of snow Thursday night.

The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities says a winter storm warning is in effect for portions of southern and central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metro area.

In western Minnesota, a blizzard warning remains in effect.

The weather was having an impact on the state's roads.

From 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the state patrol reported 213 crashes statewide, including 33 with injuries (though none serious or fatal).

There were also 177 reports of vehicles spinning out or going off the road and 15 reports of jackknifed semis.

Meanwhile, in the metro, Robbinsdale Area Schools announced the district would be closed Thursday. Minneapolis Public Schools said it will decide the fate of Thursday's classes and after-school activities by early Thursday morning.

Districts in other parts of the state had already announced school would be called off Thursday.

Snow events or emergencies had already been declared in communities like Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Brooklyn Center, Golden Valley and Elk River beginning Wednesday or Thursday morning.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport said Wednesday afternoon that it was experiencing flight delays and cancelations due to the winter weather. Travelers were advised to contact their airline to check their flight's status before arriving at the airport.

A portion of Interstate 35 from Medford to Faribault was closed for a time Wednesday afternoon and evening because of numerous crashes. . But the state patrol said Wednesday evening that the stretch of the interstate had reopened.

For a time Wednesday, MnDOT advised no travel on several southwest Minnesota state highways, including:

  • Lincoln County south of Highway 19
  • Lyon County
  • Murray County
  • Pipestone County
  • Redwood County
  • Yellow Medicine County along US Highway 59 south of Clarkfield
  • Yellow Medicine County along Highway 23 south of Hanley Falls
  • Yellow Medicine County along Highway 68 east of Canby

But by later in the afternoon, all of the areas listed above had the No Travel Advisory lifted.

The winter weather even forced the University of Minnesota football team to move its annual spring game indoors.  The game is now scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the team's indoor football facility at Athletes Village. It had been scheduled for TCF Bank Stadium.

KSTP visited repair shops Tuesday where mechanics were working on snowblowers and lawn equipment at the same time.

Meanwhile, MnDOT officials switched their focus from filling potholes and construction projects back to snow clearing.

MnDOT said it would send plows back out on the roads to use what little salt they have left to help clear roads.

"We were able to get some (salt) deliveries in across the state and we have been able to cross level a little bit between truck stations so we got what we need," MnDOT's Kevin Gutknecht said.


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MnDOT officials said the good news is that the salt is expected to be effective given the pavement is warmer. They added they aren't as concerned about snow compaction either.

However, drivers were still expected face challenges when it came to blowing snow and visibility.

Gov. Tim Walz said his administration was working with emergency managers to prepare for the storm, and added the Minnesota National Guard was ready, if necessary.

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Credits

Rebecca Omastiak

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

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