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May 1, 2013
Listen MPR's Elizabeth Baier reports on the weather in Rochester
A rare May snow storm has dropped more than a foot of snow in some areas of Minnesota, making the morning commute an ordeal and knocking out power in some communities.
Reports to the National Weather Service range from 13 inches of snow in Owatonna, to nearly 11 inches near Hayward, and 8.5 inches near Hastings. The Twin Cities largely escaped the storm that started late Wednesday.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is advising no travel from Albert Lea to Winona, and north as far as Cannon Falls. Although Interstate 35 is open, it is listed in hazardous condition from Lakeville, through Faribault, Owatonna. The transportation agency is advising against travel on interstates 35 and 90 in the most southern parts of Minnesota.
A dispatcher in Rochester said 50 or 60 911 calls have been coming in every few minutes, and the roads are as bad as he's seen them in 30 years.
In western Wisconsin, a crash involving two semis on Interstate 94 killed one of the drivers just before 1 a.m. The Wisconsin DOT says roads are snow covered and slippery as far east as Eau Claire, and no travel is advised at all in the Hayward area.
Roads in west central and north central Iowa, including Interstate 35, are partially to mostly snow-covered. Jack-knifed semis were blocking traffic on two major roadways, including I-80 west of Des Moines.
John Pemberton, a surgeon on his way to the Mayo Clinic on Thursday morning, says Highway 52 south of Cannon Falls has traffic lining up in both lanes, before 6 a.m.
"It's completely stopped," he said.
Owatonna Mayor Thomas Kuntz said there are scattered power outages in his community, where snow-covered tree branches fell on power lines. He says the snow is wet and heavy, and plows are struggling to clear the streets.
"What they're encountering now is people trying to get out and move about and getting stuck," he aid. "So, as we're trying to plow, it becomes more difficult with those stuck vehicles being out there," and he's asking people in Owatonna to stay at home while plows do their work.
More than a foot of snow has fallen across the region after a record-setting May storm.
The storm swept across northwestern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin overnight. It left more than 15 inches of snow in Owatonna. u of m climatologist Mark Seeley says that sets a new state record for snowfall on May 2nd, beating 10 inches in Wheaton in 1935.
The snow also knocked out power for more than 20,000 customers around the region.
"We've got about 7,000 that we're working on right now, most of those in the communities of Red Wing, Faribault and Northfield," said Patty Nystuen, a spokeswoman for Xcel Energy in Minneapolis. "We do have about 900 out over in the east metro, as well. We brought in extra crews, we'll be working through the day, we hope to have the vast majority of those up late tonight."
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is still advising no travel on roads in most of southeaster Minnesota, from Albert Lea, east of Owatonna to Cannon Falls and Red Wing.
Students in Wisconsin have another snow day Thursday. Menomonie, River Falls, Chetek, Rice Lake, Barron and Durand are among school districts that canceled classes.
The National Weather Service reported 14 inches of snow has fallen in Ellsworth with 9 inches in River Falls and 8 inches in Ashland. Utility crews worked to restore power to hundreds of Xcel customers in the region.
Early Thursday, two semis collided on Interstate 94 in Dunn County, killing one driver and injuring the other. The State Patrol said it was not immediately known if the weather was a factor in the crash.
|5/2||7:00:00||Dodge||Dodge Center||MN||Snow||15.4||Co-op Observer|
|5/2||5:29:00||Freeborn||Albert Lea||MN||Snow||10.8||Trained spotter|
|5/2||4:10:00||Pierce||River Falls||WI||Snow||9||Trained spoter|
|5/2||6:10:00||Washington||2 SE Cottage Grove||MN||Snow||8.5||Public|
|5/2||5:30:00||Cerro Gordo||Mason City||IA||Snow||4.5||Trained spotter|
|5/2||4:40:00||Olmsted||3 E Byron||MN||Snow||4.3||Law enforcement|
|5/2||4:48:00||Wabasha||Lake City||MN||Snow||2.4||Law enforcement|
Source: Iowa State University Mesomet
The Associated Press contributed to this report.