Tens of thousands of Minnesota students got a day off Tuesday as the second day of a slow-moving snowstorm made travel difficult across much of the region.
The scores of districts that called off classes or started late Tuesday included an unusually high number in the Twin Cities area. Among them was the northern suburban Anoka-Hennepin district, the largest in Minnesota with 39,000 students. Minneapolis public schools remained open, while St. Paul schools were open but dismissing students early.
The National Weather Service predicted a two-day snow total of 8 to 12 inches for much of southeastern and east-central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities. Forecasters expected the snow to taper off but the winds to pick up by afternoon.
The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul declared snow emergencies Tuesday morning. Heavy pre-storm news coverage induced many people in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to stay home on Tuesday, and with many schools closed or delayed, traffic was far lighter than usual.
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Barry Brooks of Maple Grove, a northern suburb, said his usual 30-minute commute to St. Paul took only 10 minutes longer than usual. And David Grinde, who owns and runs Top Notch Transportation car service, said the freeways had been clear since he started driving at 7 a.m. - typical for a big snow day.
"Once they start postponing schools, I think people realize they don't have to be out," he said.
The State Patrol reported 122 crashes statewide in Tuesday morning drive time, none of them serious.
The southern suburbs of Richfield and Hastings had 9 inches by 9 a.m., while downtown Minneapolis was one of several locations in southern and central Minnesota with 7 inches or more. The central Minnesota town of Millerville had 11 inches. Parts of northern Minnesota also took hits. The northwestern towns of Karlstad, Keillher and Northhome got 10 inches, the weather service said.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported difficult driving conditions across a long swath of the state from the northwest through the Twin Cities to the southeast. Spokesman Kent Barnard said every available MnDOT plow was on the road, and drivers were working shifts of 12 hours on, 12 hours off.
The slow traffic doubled and tripled morning drives for many commuters. More than half of Metro Transit's buses ran on time, and its two light-rail lines stayed on schedule.
Around 60 flights were canceled and around 30 were delayed as of 9 a.m. at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Delta Air Lines, the largest carrier there, waived fees for one-time changes in travel plans. Many of the cancellations were flights to and from Chicago airports, where airlines canceled nearly 1,000 flights.