4:41 p.m. -- Minneapolis has now declared a snow emergency. Get the particulars here. Please don't make me do one of those "let's talk to people at the impound lot" stories. Unless there's new info coming in, I may retire the live blog at this point to keep the snow emergency info up top. Observation: For a storm that hit at a bad time for commuters, things appear to have gone relatively well this evening. Frustrating, yes, but nowhere near as mind-boggling as earlier, smaller, storms. Talk about your commute below. I have to go blow some snow now.
4:31 p.m. - Here's the particulars on the St. Paul snow emergency:
On Thursday, February 26, 2009, beginning at 9:00 P.M., all NIGHT PLOW ROUTES will be plowed. Included are all arterial or main streets posted with signs that say "NIGHT PLOW ROUTE" and one side of all north-south residential streets posted with signs that say "NIGHT PLOW ROUTE-THIS SIDE OF STREET".
On Friday, February 27, 2009, beginning at 8:00 A.M. all DAY PLOW ROUTES will be plowed. Included are all non-posted east-west residential streets and the non-posted side of north-south residential streets.
Parking is banned until streets are plowed full width to the curb. There will be tagging and towing ahead of the plows starting immediately at 9:00 P.M. and continuing throughout the Snow Emergency. For more information visit our website at http://www.stpaul.gov/snow
4:14 p.m. - The snow has stopped in the metro, which is great news for the commute. The final total via garage-door-cam is 4 1/2" which, in the big scheme of things, isn't that big of a deal.
4:10 p.m. - A better picture. This is looking at the westbound side of 494 over the Wakota bridge. The jackknifed truck was on the westbound side, not the eastbound side. And it's now been moved to the side and only one lane is blocked now.
4:00 p.m. - Uh oh. This MnDOT camera picture of westbound 494 at Carver Ave in Woodbury tells me there's another big problem in the other direction too, from the one where were that jackknifed truck is blocking things. Searching.
3:56 p.m. - This picture from Julia Schrenkler near the News Cut World Headquarters (7th and Cedar in St. Paul), shows the person everyone hates. He/she tried to get through the intersection, didn't make it, and now everybody going in the other direction is blocked for a light cycle or two.
3:37 p.m. - The biggest traffic
disaster godawful mess typical metro commuter nonsense chance-to-scare-you area is in the east metro on I-494. A truck has jackknifed at the Concord St. exit of I-494 eastbound before the Wakota Bridge
You can see the mess.
3:34 p.m. - The Weather Channel person doing live shots from downtown Minneapolis notes, "They don't mess around here," when it comes to snow plowing. His disappointment as the snow tapers off seems detectable.
3:27 p.m. - Some flights arriving at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport are up to an hour and 45 minutes late. Many are being held on the ground at departing locations, according to the Air Traffic Control Management Center. Northwest has issued a winter waiver. You can rebook without fees.
3:22 p.m. - Garage-cam hourly update shows it snowed at a 2-inch-per-hour rate in the last hour.
2:58 p.m. - Paul Huttner says it has stopped snowing in Mankato. Flakes are larger (which usually means it's ending.... why is that?) in Woodbury.
2:52 p.m. - The Uptake's Jason Barnett reports via Twitter: "40 miles south of Twin Cities I35 is blocked. All northern traffic stopped. Me among them. :( "
Also via Twitter, Matt Abe reports the snow is tapering off in Hopkins.
Meanwhile, I have a shovel-ready project.
2:39 p.m. - OK, here we go. The rush hour is underway, and very badly misnamed today. (h/t: MPR's Tim Nelson)
A quick check of MNDot's Web page shows 5 stalled vehicles closing lanes on various stretches of the main highways.
2:37 p.m. - U of M cancels evening classes.
2:20 p.m. - Paul Huttner says the late start of the storm should keep the total accumulation at 7 inches tops.
2:11 p.m. - Paul Huttner, MPR meteorologist, says southeast metro is getting hit the hardest. He includes Woodbury. Let's go there now as part of our exclusive News Cut coverage of Snowmaggedon. Here's the garage-door-cam.
Almost 2.5" in two hours. Now our only-on-News-Cut coverage has this exclusive footage from bird-feeder cam.
More as it happens. Back to you in the studio.
2:00 p.m. - Snow totals so far:
New Market - 5.4 "
Carlos - 9" (good thing I canceled my trip to the area today)
Hastings - 1"
Faribault - 3.1"
Zumbrota - 2"
1:51 p.m. - This picture of the MPR News Cut World Headquarters by Dan Olson ...
... has got me wondering. I wonder what it would've been like if the Republican National Convention in St. Paul were held in February?
1:33 p.m. - Interesting "tweet" from a person who says his son's high school has canceled this afternoon's ski and snowboard trip due to snow.
1:21 p.m. - "What hath God wrought?" Everybody's got a video stream pointing a camera out the window. The Star Tribune is the latest. Naples, Florida? Are you out there watching this?
1:12 p.m. - Live video from Moorhead (h/t: Than Tibbetts)
12:50 p.m. - Latest from MnDOT:
The Minnesota Department of Transportation advises no unnecessary travel in the following counties: Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, LeSueur, Martin, Nicollet, Nobles, Rock, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan . Windy conditions and heavy snow are creating reduced or zero visibility in some areas and snow compacted roads. Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout the day with high winds predicted.
12:40 p.m. - Via Twitter. A live video feed of snow falling somewhere in the Twin Cities. This is the advantage of the Web, of course. Looking out the window just doesn't cut it, anymore.
12:38 p.m. - 41st St. NW in Rochester:
12:21 p.m. - Now that the snow is falling, the meteorologists say it will snow quite heavily. Today's thing to think about when you're sitting in traffic on the way home: If it rains cats and dogs, what does it snow...?"
12:09 p.m. - Snow starting, innocently enough, in Woodbury.
12:05 p.m. - Matt Wells looks out the office window in Eagan and sees, well, nothing:
11:52 a.m. - Confirmation from Greg Boone that it's snowing at Gustavus in
Mankato St. Peter.
11:22 a.m. - Weather Channel won't make the same mistake three times. Drops the live shot from the guy standing in downtown St. Paul (with his hood on his parka up. What's up with that?) and does a phone interview with a weather in Mankato who describes the small fall. It's always difficult to subscribe snowfall without visuals (as radio folks know). But it's snowing in Mankato. Save yourselves while you still can.
11:20 a.m. - MPR's Craig Edwards, writing on the Updraft blog says the commute home will be no fun.
As predicted, the snow held off for the morning rush in the metro. But heavy snow, falling faster than an inch per hour, has reached west central and southwest Minnesota. We expect heavy accumulations, of up to an inch per hour, from around 11am to 6pm in the Twin Cities.
I don't know, Craig, so I can't kid with him but predicted? Predicted when? Because I got up at 2 a.m. based on one prediction on heard on (gulp) MPR.
11:16 a.m. - Twitter reports it's snow in St. Peter. You know the drill as thing swallows us, right? Send pictures.
11:12 a.m. - The Weather Channel has a guy doing live shots from downtown St. Paul (looks like near Landmark Center). He's apologizing that nothing is happening. "Any minute now," he said a few minutes ago, repeating what he said a few minutes before that.
Studio host, trying to make something out of nothing, offers him a lifeline. "Mike, is Minnesota doing anything to prepare for this?"
10:51 a.m. - This is going to be the second-cousin-twice-removed of all snowstorms, from what I've heard over the last few hours. It's changed my News Cut plans.
The plan was an overnight in Moorhead after yesterday's News Cut on Campus, and then I was to spend the morning in Pelican Rapids. I wanted to meet the imam of Minnesota's smallest mosque (it was going to contrast nicely with the story today from Minnesota's largest mosque. Pure genius, really.)
But the meteorologists -- and a News Cut friend in Pelican Rapids -- suggested scurrying back to the Twin Cities was a better idea. So after a short nap, I left I awoke in a Moorhead motel and turned on the local weather on the TV (something I can't do in Woodbury anymore, thank you very much, Channel 17). There were pinks and whites all over the screen. It seemed I missed my avenue of escape.
The backup radar (looking out the window) revealed dry pavement. The forecast said an inch by sunrise, so I drove, accompanied by the radio beating forecasts in three-quarter time and telling me the snow would start in the Twin Cities by the morning commute and when it did, "it would be very heavy." I drove faster.
After arriving home at 6:45 this morning, I took another nap, and prepared to live blog the day because surely this storm will wreak havoc. So, far, it just reeks.
Meria Carstarphen is accepting the job as the Austin, Texas school superintendent, giving us the opportunity to parse her statement of last week when she said.... well, we're still not sure exactly what she said.
But here's what she said:
"I am proud to be the Superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools and am continuing to work to serve the District's students, families, staff and community members every day. It is well known that I very much enjoy my job here and remain deeply committed to achieving the vision that we have set forth over the past three years."
SPPS has big work ahead of us in the coming months with preparations for spring testing, Large-Scale System Changes and budget reductions. I am committed to leading those efforts."
And here's what she said today:
"I am extremely honored to have secured the confidence of the Austin School District Board of Trustees that they would name me the lone finalist to become their next school superintendent.
"I am deeply honored to have worked with the St. Paul Public Schools families and staff. It is thanks to their commitment that we have come such a long way in the district in such a short time."
The Austin-American Statesman comments section to the story is not filled with the happy welcome of Austin. It's chock full of the best wishes of St. Paulites.
WOO HOO!! She's your problem now!
Carstarphen has not completed three years in Saint Paul yet. If that is a measure of her dedication to her constituency, good luck in Austin.
Thank god. I am truly sorry for your students, teachers, and community, but this is such a blessing for St. Paul. Carstarphen is a rock star for sure. She is narcissistic and self-absorbed. She come in, surround herself only with yes-men and women, alienate most senior staff and teachers. She will implement many "sweeping" changes, but won't stick around to see them through or be held accountable for results. Remember that her D.C. gig only lasted 18 months, and she was with us less than 3 years. Do not be fooled, this is all about Meria, and not about students or Austin. Yes, she truly is a "Rock Star". Glad you got her!
Why does this choice NOT surprise me in the least! I wouldn't even have to see her resume to know that she'd be "highly thought of". __ And by the comments from the people of St Paul, we're in for something LESS than expected
I would like to that the citizens of Austin for relieving our school district of a total failure. You will certainly find this out later.
This woman is a charter member of the transient club of school supers that bounce from failing district to failing district. They know all the buzz words, they are described as "rock stars". Once she arrives she'll disappear for a couple years and ZERO will change. You will have paid her well over a million for a couple years of nothing and poof she'll be gone to the next stop......
Good luck and a hearty thank you for relieving us of this no results slick talker......
Photo: Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN - Dr. Meria Carstarphen, the lone finalist to replace Pat Forgione as AISD Superintendent, says hello to Eydie (CQ) Lugo's first grade class at Zilker Elementary School today.
Bill Holm, whose death we learned about today, was a frequent voice on Minnesota Public Radio and has left plenty behind to listen to.
It appears the last time he was on, however, was Christmas 2007, with the Holiday Stage Session. Unfortunately these archived shows are in RealAudio.
A few months before that, he was Garrison Keillor's guest on A Prairie Home Companion.
In 2004, during an appearance at the College of St. Benedict, he read from many of his essays.
His poem, "Wedding Poem for Schele and Phil" was read on Writer's Almanac in May 2003.
The University of Washington hosts the Bill Holm Center. Several lectures are available on its Web site.
The MPR books site also has extensive links surrounding the 2000 Milkweed Editions reissue of The Heart Can be Filled Anywhere on Earth.
Update 12:07 p.m. - MPR's Marianne Combs will have a look at the life of Bill Holm tonight on All Things Considered. We're also trying to get some of the digitized audio encoded to a Flash player.
Update 12:36 p.m. -- MPR's Michael Wells has found this 1987 appearance on the old MPR Morning Show:
Update 1:13 p.m. - Garrison Keillor has released this statement:
Bill Holm was a great man and unlike most great men he really looked like one. Six-foot-eight, big frame, and a big white beard and a shock of white hair, a booming voice, so he loomed over you like a prophet and a preacher which is what he was. He was an only child, adored by his mother, and she protected him from bullies and he grew up free to follow his own bent, and become the sage of Minneota, a colleague of Whitman though born a hundred years too late, a champion of Mozart and Bach, playing his harpsichord on summer nights, telling stories about the Icelanders, and thundering about how the young have lost their way and abandoned learning and culture in favor of grease and noise.
He thundered with the best of them though he had a gentle heart. He was an English prof who really loved literature and he could buttonhole you and tell you he'd just finished reading Dickens again and how wonderful it was. He got himself into print pretty well and anyone picking up his "Windows of Brimnes" or "The Music of Failure" or "The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere On Earth" will get the real Holm.
He hated Minnesota winters and maybe that's what killed him, flying back from beautiful Patagonia to the wind-swept tundra and thinking about having to shovel out his house in Minneota.
I'm glad he got to see Barack elected, which restored some of his faith in his countrymen. I wish I'd been there to catch him as he fell. I hope his Icelandic ancestors are waiting to welcome him to their rocky corner of heaven. I hope his piano goes to someone who will love it as much as he did. I hope that people all across Minnesota will pick up one of his books and see what the man had to say.
4:34 p.m. - David Doody's tribute.
7:15 p.m. - This video has just been posted on YouTube, from Holm's tribute to Paul Wellstone.(11 Comments)
Michael Caputo, one of the icons of Minnesota Public Radio's Public Insight Journalism initiative, and I have been talking in the past week or so about how people are paying -- or not paying -- their bills.
On Wednesday, during the News Cut on Campus listening tour stop in Moorhead, I was set up not far from a group from a bank who were trying to sign students up for credit cards.
Coincidentally, Michael sent me this today on the subject of students trying to balance their credit card debt:
As if paying for college was not rough enough... now that plastic in your pocket is getting into the act.
Philip Novak of Minneapolis thought it made sense to put about $8,000 on his credit card. The rate was good and he needed to buy books and supplies, like a laptop, while pursuing his engineering degree at the University of Minnesota.
Then he heard that Citicard's rate was being doubled to 14 percent. For a returning student, not relying on support of parents, this is a factor that is helping to make his fifth year of school quite costly.
"I've tried to find other cards onto which I can transfer balances, but because I'm a student with a low income, I'm having trouble qualifying for $8,000 in credit," Novak said.
He's one of many college students getting caught up in the recent rate hikes by credit card companies.
You may remember that university's were encouraging students to use credit cards for tuition and books costs.
A Minnesota State Colleges and Universities survey in 2005 on student financing said 25 percent of students use credit cards to pay part of tuition or fees... 37 percent use them for books and supplies. That's only going up, said the MnSCU Student Association advocate Shannah Moore.
The reason: Rising tuition, the cap on federal student loans and the tightening of the private credit market.
In many ways, we saw this coming. In this 2004 story, MPR's Elizabeth Stawicki called attention to the increasing role of credit cards in funding college.
If you're caught up in the credit card interest rate-raising, we'd love to hear from you. Please comment below.(4 Comments)
When I took my driver's license in exam in Massachusetts in 1970, one of the four questions I got wrong was, "is it OK to accelerate past the speed limit to pass another vehicle?" I said it was. I was wrong.
I like to think I was merely ahead of my time.
Rep.Tom Rukavina, who occasionally regales the House with stories of his driving experiences, has gotten initial approval of a bill that would allow Minnesota drivers to exceed the speed limit by 10 mph on roads where the speed limit is at least 55, when passing a vehicle going slower than the speed limit.
State Patrol Maj. Michele Tuchner expressed concern about drivers thinking they get the extra 10 mph when preparing to pass or after returning to the right lane, according to Session Daily.
TPT, the local PBS affiliate, heavily promoted the White House honors for Stevie Wonder. For many in the Twin Cities, though, they needn't have bothered; audio problems made the program unwatchable.
It's still unclear what the problem was, since viewers in other parts of the country reported no similar problems.
In the Twin Cities, however, some viewers couldn't hear any of the audio from singers or comments by Michele Obama.
"My parents called me to ask about the audio. MTS multi-track sound button fixed it for me. WCCO's CSI also had similar problem," one acquaintance on Twitter told me.
Perhaps this is fallout from the digital conversion. Perhaps we've entered an era where some older TVs aren't compatible, despite assurances to the contrary. Or perhaps TPT just messed up. Or it was the cable company or satellite service (so far, people with problems have been Dish Network and Comcast subscribers). We don't know. A call to TPT's offices only yielded a taped message that because of the snowstorm, the offices were closed.
We'll try to follow up on this (I'm off Friday, but will try to check) after sunrise.
Here's some terrific pictures from the White House on the event.
(Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Images)
Updated 11:15 a.m. -- Through the kindness and connections of Twitter, it's been relayed to us that an audio processor failed.
Updated 5:53 p.m. 2/27 - Email from TPT
We sincerely apologize for this problem and would like to explain how it occurred. Recently we installed a new piece of equipment in order to alleviate some audio fluctuations. Unfortunately this new equipment failed and our engineers worked throughout the program to try and restore sound, but were unable to do so. We were also not able to insert a "crawl" to alert our viewers to this issue because we do not currently have the equipment to insert this bit of information while a program is in progress. This equipment is on our list to purchase as soon as funds become available.
We apologize for the late response, but we have been checking into the broadcast rights of this program. We have determined we will be able to air it again in the near future, but do not have rights to do so until after our March pledge drive which begins this evening. We will inform you via email when we have a specific broadcast date and time for this program. We appreciate your patience and, again, apologize for any inconvenience.(5 Comments)