Snow ending, cold moving in overnightby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio,
Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio,
Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Most of southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area will experience sub-zero temperatures overnight, as residents continue to dig out of the first snowstorm of the season.
The National Weather Service estimates that the temperature throughout the southern half of the state could drop to five degrees below zero, with a wind chill of 20 degrees below zero.
The agency issued a wind chill advisory for parts of south central Minnesota, west of Minneapolis and north of Mankato. Rochester, Albert Lea, Mankato and surrounding areas remain under a winter weather advisory.
By the time the snow stopped falling Wednesday, Rochester had received 10 to 13 inches of snow, while the Twin Cities saw about eight inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Transportation officials said the biggest concern was the wind, which created whiteout conditions across southern Minnesota on Wednesday morning. Although the wind gusts slowed by early evening, a no-travel advisory for much of southeastern Minnesota remains in effect until midnight.
Visibility wasn't as much of an issue in the Twin Cities, but roads were still covered in snow, and dozens of crashes were reported during the morning commute, including a semi that jackknifed on the Interstate 94 bridge over the St. Croix River, blocking a couple eastbound lanes into Hudson, Wis. Dozens of spinouts and a couple of incidents involving school buses were also reported during the commute.
The Minnesota State Patrol said at least two deaths were blamed on the dangerous roads. A 22-year-old woman who swerved to avoid a stalled vehicle on Interstate 94 in Maple Grove Tuesday night. Carrie A. Lorman of Rogers went down an embankment and her car ended up overturned in a creek. Her car was in the water for 25 minutes.
Lorman was taken to a hospital where she died Wednesday morning. Snow was falling and blowing at the time of the crash, which is under investigation.
The other death occurred in Prior Lake when two vehicles crashed head-on Tuesday evening.
Between 6 a.m. Tuesday and 1 p.m. Wednesday, the State Patrol reported 669 property damage crashes, 89 crashes involving minor injuries and 375 vehicles off the road statewide. State troopers assisted 348 motorists during the storm.
MnDOT spokesperson Jessica Wiens said there were noticeably fewer drivers on the roads during the day, which helped crews clear the streets faster.
"Especially because the schools were closed and so many activities were already closed last night, I think that really helped in making sure that people took this storm seriously and didn't take any risks with it," Wiens said.
At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, most flights are leaving with minimal delays, said spokesperson Patrick Hogan. Earlier in the day, some flights were delayed more than three hours.
Hogan said anyone flying out of the Twin Cities Wednesday or Thursday should still check with their airline to make sure the flight wasn't cancelled, as other airports continue to experience delays due to winter weather.
Schools throughout southern Minnesota were closed on Wednesday. Officials will decide early Thursday if they will open for classes tomorrow.
At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, activities operated as usual on Wednesday. The clinic activated its severe weather plan to ensure they'd have enough staff to care for patients.
(MPR's Mark Zdechlik and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
- All Things Considered, 12/09/2009, 5:20 p.m.
Elizabeth Dunbar is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.
Tim Nelson is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.
Madeleine Baran is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.