Traffic was backed up for miles, schools were canceled, and flights were delayed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Tuesday due to the region’s worst winter storm in years.
By the time the snow finally stopped falling around 4 p.m., several parts of the metro had recorded totals of up to 9 inches, and numerous towns, including St. Paul, West St. Paul, Minneapolis, Richfield, and Bloomington, had declared their first snow emergencies of the season.
The Minnesota State Patrol responded to 387 accidents between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., 41 of which resulted in injuries, but fortunately, none of them were life-threatening. The State Patrol also stated that 285 automobiles had gone off the road or spun out of control, and 33 semitrailer trucks had jackknifed.
On Tuesday night near Oakdale, a section of Interstate 694 was closed due to a stalled truck.
Meanwhile, severe snowfall and poor visibility forced the closure of all runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport soon after 2:00 p.m., as reported on the airport’s official Twitter account. At 4:30, one of the runways had been reopened. Passengers are responsible for checking the status of their own flights for cancellations and delays.
Even though the lead forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, Mike Griesinger, said there wouldn’t be much more snow Tuesday evening, the winter storm warning that was supposed to end at 6 p.m. was extended for three hours.
However, as Griesinger pointed out, it doesn’t imply the roads will clear up by themselves.
Overnight, crews from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the counties, and the municipalities will be hard at work on that.
At 9 o’clock Tuesday night, St. Paul’s night plow routes were planned to be cleaned. Those who left their cars parked in the way of the night plows risked getting a penalty and having their cars towed. On Wednesday morning, at 8 a.m., the day plow routes were set to be plowed.
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West St. Paul implemented no parking prohibitions, enforced by towing, on important streets such as Annapolis, Dodd, Robert, and Stryker starting at 2 a.m. Wednesday and enforceable by towing until the streets were entirely plowed. No parking on all other streets and alleyways was planned to go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday until the roadway was completely plowed or until 8 p.m., whichever came first.
Snowfall totals were highest over a diagonal zone that extended about from south-central Minnesota northeast to western Wisconsin. By Tuesday evening, an accumulation of 9 inches was recorded in North St. Paul, while 8.5 inches were reported in St. Peter, Minn., Burnsville, and Birchwood Village, on White Bear Lake. The Twin Cities airport had officially reported 8.4 inches as of 6 p.m.
St. Paul Public Schools and the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan school district canceled most after-school programs, while other metro districts released kids early.
In Stillwater, children were dismissed from school at midday, and all after-school activities and nighttime events were canceled.
NWS meteorologist Tyler Hasenstein predicted high winds tonight and into Wednesday, despite the snow letting off by Tuesday evening. That might result in blowing snow and poor visibility for vehicles. Wednesday might also see hazardous roads due to precipitation.
The website 511mn.org provides updates on road conditions around the state.
Since a considerable warm-up is not predicted until maybe on Friday, when highs reach the 40s, the snowfall is anticipated to persist in the Twin Cities for at least the next two weeks. For the first week of December, highs are expected to be in the middle to low thirties, which is much cooler than average.
For the next week, there is no significant chance of snowfall.