Rain, sleet, snow: Hundreds of car crashesby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
Driving across much of the southern third of Minnesota is a mess this morning, with slippery roads and a thick fog advisory in the area. Roads from Lake City to Austin are in the worst condition.
"Roads are still slick down here," said Kristin Kammueller, the state Department of Transportation's spokeswoman in southeastern Minnesota. "We need motorists to really slow down and allow themselves extra time as they leave for work this morning."
The National Weather Service in LaCrosse reported freezing rain continuing until well after dark in Wabasha Sunday night, with up to a half-inch of ice reported in some areas.
MnDOT says Interstate 35 is in fair driving condition from the Iowa border up through the Twin Cities to Pine City. The agency says snow and ice are slowing travel on I-35 from Pine City through Cloquet.
The State Patrol is reporting hundreds of crashes and spinouts in the area.
Lt. Eric Roeske says 240 crashes were reported between noon and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, with 36 injuries, though none seriously. He says another 152 vehicles went off the roads or spun out, and one semi jackknifed.
The National Weather Service says dense fog is moving in behind the ice and snow storm from yesterday.
Rick Hiltbrand, a meteorologist with the weather service in Chanhassen, says his office issued a dense fog advisory for the southern third of the state.
"There will be areas across central and southern Minnesota where visibilities will be less than a quarter-mile, and there could be areas, especially in the south, near the I-90 corridor, where you could run into near zero visibility," he said.
Temperatures a few degrees below freezing mean that fog may also form ice on untreated sidewalks and roadways, adding to the slippery mess left by the rain that fell through last night, he said.
The weather is causing scores of delayed starts for schools across the southern part of the state, and Rochester public schools are closed today.
As much as half an inch of freezing rain fell yesterday in parts of southeastern Minnesota. Freezing rain is also forecast to resume across the state this afternoon. It will turn to snow later, with possibly heavy snow in the Alexandria area, and to the north and northeast.