Storm slows Twin Cities to a crawl

Fifty car crashes blocked highways during the sudden, punishing snowfall.

Britt Johnsen

University senior Jen Wechout said her usual 15-minute drive to campus took two hours Monday because of a snowstorm.

“I couldn’t even see 15 feet in front of me,” she said.

A storm affected both driving conditions and the parking situation Monday in the Twin Cities, which coincided with the Metro Transit strike.

“There are more cars out there and there are more cars out there to get in trouble with each other,” said Craig Wilkins, information officer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

According to the department, 50 crashes occurred Monday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

A total of 3 inches of snow fell in the metro area Monday, according to the National Weather Service. The intersections of Interstate 94 heading westbound at Interstate 280 and I-94 heading westbound at White Bear Avenue were closed. All exits to those areas were also closed.

Nick Thompson, operations manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Regional Transportation Management Center, said there were no fatalities reported and an unknown number of injuries.

“This was a pretty bad sudden storm,” Thompson said.

He said one of the worst storms this winter was Super Bowl Sunday, when there were 200 car crashes.

“It caught some people by surprise,” he said.

With more cars on the road, there were also more cars parking on campus Monday.

Lori Ann Vicich, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services, said Mondays are usually busier than other days and that the transit strike arrived at a somewhat convenient time.

“Thursday (the first day of the strike) was kind of a fluke,” she said. “People had plans and the weather cooperated.”

Monday, the Buckeye lot on Huron Boulevard filled by 8 a.m. Vicich said it might have filled quicker than usual because snow covers lines and people can’t see where to park, reducing parking spaces.

Vicich also said bad weather causes less people to want to walk or ride their bike.

“On a day when the weather’s bad, it’s tough,” she said.

As long as people continue to be resourceful, the transit strike will not affect the ample parking available on campus, Vicich said.

The National Weather Service predicts a chance of snow Today and Wednesday.

– Derek Olson contributed to this report.