Mother Nature delivers a one-two punch in Minnesota

St. Cloud snow
Cheryl Kantor of Foley, Minn., walks outside St. Cloud Hospital on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 morning. St. Cloud was forecast to get 10-16 inches of snow.
Ann Wessel / The St. Cloud Times via AP

Updated 5:15 p.m.

Snow and sleet fell in wide swaths of central and northern Minnesota on Monday morning and afternoon.

The snowfall challenged travelers and closed schools across the region. It was followed by heavy sleet in some parts of the metro area.

There was a big range of snowfall across the region. The core cities and northern Twin Cities accumulated between six and twelve inches of snow. The biggest snowfall reported so far is 16.5 inches in St. Augusta, south of St. Cloud.

Follow the storm on MPR News' winter weather live blog

Snow plows
Snow plows keep roads in downtown St. Paul mostly clear Monday afternoon, Nov. 10, 2014.
Jennifer Simonson / MPR News

The Minnesota Department of Transportation advises no travel in the area because of heavy, blowing snow and limited visibility, said MnDOT District 8 spokesperson Judy Jacobs.

"I'm listening to our operators on the radio, I can hear the chatter, and it's filling up behind them as quickly as they can plow it," she said. "We're dealing with a lot of heavy winds, heavy snow, blowing and drifting snow and then we had a little bit of freezing rain before the snow hit, so we've got the icy road conditions."

Road crews from Marshall are driving to Willmar to help out, she said.

Kandiyohi County Public Works said it plans to take all plows off county roads at 5:30 p.m. because of the weather conditions and drivers working 13 hour shifts. The county will resume plowing at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Southeast Minnesota saw little precipitation, and temperatures in cities like Winona and Albert Lea were still well above freezing over the noon hour.

The Minnesota State Patrol received hundreds of crash reports across the state Monday as commuters coped with snowy and icy conditions.

Shoveling snow
Mike Oslund of Golden Valley, Minn., shoveled his driveway before he went to drop off his in-laws at the airport and then head to work on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014.
Yi-Chin Lee / MPR News

Lt. Eric Roeske reported 393 crashes across the state between 5 a.m. and 4 p.m., including one fatal crash in Nicollet County this afternoon and 37 injury accidents. About 559 vehicles also spun off state roads.

Roeske said drivers should expect their commute to take twice as long as usual.

"Please reduce speeds, increase following distances, and know that there will be emergency vehicles, tow trucks, on the side of the road, helping people out," Roeske said. "We're asking them to slow down and give those first responders -- our troopers, our tow truck operators -- space to do their jobs safely."

MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said roads are already completely covered by snow in the western part of the state, from Moorhead to St. Cloud and down to Montevideo, as far east as Mille Lacs Lake.

Eight-hundred plows are on the roads statewide, with 250 of those in the Metro area alone. He reminded drivers to give snow plows a wide berth as crews salt and plow.

As snow let up in the afternoon, it allowed MnDOT to catch up a bit.

"I just talked to Maple Grove truck station," said MnDOT Maintenance Operations Engineer Mike Kamikar. "They've got 10 inches up there, but they're doing very well removing the snow from the highways, versus the southern area of the Metro, very little snow. So we're treating that a little different. But we have equipment and material out there, doing its job."

Difficult driving conditions are expected to continue until at least Tuesday morning.

Semi skids off I-94
This photo provided by the Minnesota State Patrol via Twitter shows a semi loaded with live turkeys that skidded off I-94 near Dalton, Minn. The State Patrol says the driver of the semi wasn't seriously hurt.
Minnesota State Patrol via AP

Matt Lindstrom, a spokesman for the city of Minneapolis, said there will not be a Snow Emergency in the city Monday, but driver should watch for an update Tuesday.

The storm has also snarled traffic at the airport. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesperson Patrick Hogan said conditions there are slick. There had been 175 cancellations over the day, he said, but most cancellations came before the storm hit. The weather has taken the airport down from four open runways to two, he said.

"It was the winds and the blowing snow and the low visibility that had the greatest impact," Hogan said.

Hogan urged people traveling from the airport today to call the airlines ahead to be sure the flight is still on time.

According to an FAA update at 4 p.m., some arriving flights were delayed by an average of 3 hours and 44 minutes.

Meanwhile, Metro Transit reported at 4:30 p.m. that 74 percent of its buses were on time with an average delay of five minutes. Green Line trains and the Northstar Commuter Rail Line were running on schedule. There have been minor delays on the Blue Line because of mechanical issues in Bloomington.

St. Cloud Metro Bus service announced this afternoon that they will suspend bus service Monday evening because of snow. The bus service has been running behind schedule today, according to the St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission. All buses will be done by 6 p.m. and the Dial-a-Ride service won't schedule new rides after 2 p.m.

Several schools across the metro and state cancelled after school programs and activities.

Temperatures are expected to drop into the single digits by Thursday.

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