Slick roads in metro and southern Minn.; snow emergencies declared

Chris Bowker clears his sidewalk
Chris Bowker cleared his sidewalk of snow in St. Paul on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. The first big snowfall of the year fell overnight and continued into the morning.
Leila Navidi | Star Tribune via AP

Snowfall overnight led to a slippery Tuesday morning commute and almost 10 inches of snow in some parts of the state. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul declared their first snow emergencies of the season.

The storm dropped 9.6 inches of snow in Winnebago in Faribault County, 8 inches in Mankato in Blue Earth County and 4.7 inches of snow at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported 242 crashes between 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday morning that left 25 people injured, although no one was killed or seriously injured. More than 200 spinouts were also reported on snowy roads.

Lt. Tiffani Nielson said snow falling as the morning commute ramped up made it more difficult to keep the roads clear.

"Don't feel compelled to rush this morning on your way to work," Nielson said. "There are some slippery spots underneath the snow. I noticed some blowing snow across the roadway as well. So be very cautious, reduce your speed, wear your seat belt so you get to work safely."

A crash involving two semitrailers and a car temporarily closed Interstate 494 eastbound at Nicollet Avenue in Richfield shortly after 6 a.m. Minor injuries were reported, Nielson said. Traffic was moving again shortly after 7 a.m.

Interstate 494
As seen from Portland Avenue South in Richfield, Minn., all eastbound lanes of Interstate 494 were closed after a multiple-vehicle wreck occurred near Nicollet Avenue South during the morning commute Tuesday Dec., 29, 2015.
Courtney Perry for MPR News

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported snow-covered roads in much of the southern half of the state early Tuesday.

About 800 plows were working throughout the night and morning to clear state roads, said spokesperson Kevin Gutknecht. He said weather on Tuesday afternoon should be ideal for removing compacted ice from the roads.

"When the snow stops, then we go out and we do the last clearing of the snow off the main lanes, the travel lanes," Gutknecht said. "Then we do put down salt, especially in the areas where there's a potential for freezing or there's compaction. Later on, depending on how serious the compaction is, we'll go back and use different sorts of tools to scrape off that ice."

A winter storm warning remains in effect for parts of southern Minnesota until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Minneapolis declared a snow emergency to start Tuesday at 9 p.m. Drivers are asked to avoid parking on labeled snow emergency routes. Starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, drivers are banned from parking on the even side of non-snow emergency routes between until 8 p.m. On Thursday, there is no parking on odd sides of streets from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

St. Paul's snow emergency parking rules go into effect at 9 p.m. on Tuesday on streets that are labelled as "night plow route." The city will plow "day plow route" streets starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

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