Monday a snow day, for a variety of reasons

Plowing the streets
Snow plow crews worked to clear streets in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minn. Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. A second snow emergency was declared in Minneapolis Monday.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Officials in Minneapolis have declared a second snow emergency, effective Monday at 9 p.m. St. Paul already declared its second snow emergency in two days, Sunday night.

Those are the latest updates in the aftermath of the weekend snowfall. The fifth-largest snowfall to ever hit the Twin Cities made for tough driving Monday. But it gave tens of thousands of school children across the metro and the state a snow day.

Kids who were bummed that the snow fell on a weekend and not a weekday -- when school could be canceled -- had nothing to fear. The Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts both called off classes Monday, along with many others around Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Officials said they were worried that roads still weren't clear enough for buses, and also that kids would be waiting for those buses in sub-zero weather.

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Aidan Gallivan, 16, got the good news last night on Facebook. She's a junior at Highland Park High in St. Paul, and said this is a new experience for her. "St. Paul public schools has never had a snow day until today, at least in my schooling time," said Gallivan. "So this is pretty exciting."

Gallivan was in front of her house Monday morning, helping her 4-year-old brother Daschel Sweet build a fort.

Dozens of other school districts also canceled classes and events, including many in southwest Minnesota, which forced parents to scramble to find alternate arrangements for their children.

Buried squad car
A Minneapolis squad car parked alongside City Hall lies buried in snow three days after a winter storm dumped more than 16 inches of snow on the Twin Cities. The city has declared a second snow emergency beginning Dec. 13, 2010 at 9:00 p.m. with no parking on snow emergency routes.
MPR Photo/Sasha Aslanian

Finding child care wasn't the only challenge. St. Paul city officials said their crews are behind in their plowing, and running out of places to dump the snow. Roads that are clear of snow are now slippery, because below-zero temperatures make ice-melting chemicals less effective, if at all.

In Minneapolis, public safety director Steve Kotke said the second snow emergency is needed because crews need another crack at all the city's streets.

"A lot of our streets were completely buried," said Kotke. "The cars were very buried, and citizens were having a terrible time getting their cars out, which made it difficult for us to get in and plow those streets."

The new snow emergency means no parking on emergency routes in Minneapolis Monday night.

Officials acknowledged the confusion of dueling double snow emergencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and asked people to check online or with neighbors for updates. They also asked for patience for plowing crews, many of whom have worked 12-16 hour shifts in recent days.

After the storm
Pedestrians for a bus atop a snow drift on University Avenue in St. Paul, Minn. Monday, Dec. 13, 2010.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

There were also many instances of strangers helping strangers. One stranded motorist, whose card died along St. Clair Ave. in St. Paul, only had to stand at the side of the road for a few minutes before help arrived.

Rachid Amrani was waving jumper cables in the air, hoping someone would stop and help him. Larry Jodsaas did, and offered up his engine.

"It works now; that makes me happy," said Amrani.

One block away, Leo Kapsner was at his grandmother's house Monday morning to re-shovel. Plows had come through and buried part of her driveway.

"It's a lot denser, I think -- more compact," he said of the snow. "On Saturday, it was pretty soft."

Minneapolis officials say they might have to further restrict parking to just one side of the street so there's enough room for emergency vehicles. One fire truck did get stuck en route to a call this weekend.

Once these and other immediate challenges are met, others will surface. Both cities say they're about to bust their yearly budgets for snow removal.

Each snow emergency costs each city up to $500,000. Minneapolis may have to tap a contingency fund to pay for this snow emergency. St. Paul budgeted for four this year; Sunday night's was No. 5. And the first day of winter is still technically a week away.