Icy blanket of snow coats the state

There were 129 crashes statewide reported to the Minnesota State Patrol by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

by James Nord

Between six and 20 inches of snow has fallen on Eastern Minnesota. More is expected overnight.

Minneapolis residents woke up to a “blizzard or near blizzard” Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Snow cemented cars to the roadside. Those who disregarded the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s advisory to not travel had to excavate their cars with a shovel first. Two-wheel drive sedans littered 15th Avenue Southeast, stuck in snow banks that reached the front bumper.

Plows began clearing Minneapolis roads Friday night, and by 7 a.m. Saturday, a team of 54 bulldozed through the streets. The city declared a snow emergency that will last from 9 p.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Monday. Parking on either side of non-snow emergency routes is allowed the first night of an emergency. On Sunday night, parking is allowed on the odd-numbered side of non-snow emergency routes. It switches to the even-numbered side the following day. A breakdown of the city’s rules can be found here.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, 96 crashes had been reported in the metro area, resulting in nine injuries, Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said. The agency also received 561 calls concering vehicles that had left the road or spun out statewide.

Weather conditions caused a headache for state and local agencies. Some MNDOT plows were forced to abandon their routes because of low visibility in southeastern Minnesota. After roughly 70 buses got stuck in the snow, Metro Transit suspended service for Saturday and University of Minnesota administrators decided to close campus. Even the Salvation Army pulled back it’s bell-ringing troops.

Though the avalanche has slowed, the danger hasn’t passed. Officials expect a drastic drop in temperature overnight will leave roads icy and dangerous.

âÄúIt certainly will not be business as usual on the roads tomorrow,âÄù Roeske said.