Travel slowly returns to normal after April blizzard

snowstorm
During Saturday's spring blizzard, the snow fell quickly and many drivers, such as this one on Washington Ave. on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, needed a push after getting stuck in the heavy, wet, deep snow on April 14, 2018.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Most roads in southwestern Minnesota were open again Sunday, and airplanes are back in the sky over Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after an historic blizzard Saturday forced runways to close. But some problems still persist.

Poor visibilty and strong winds made de-icing and plowing efforts useless Saturday, said airport spokesman Pat Hogan.

While the runways are back in operation, he said flights will continue to be cancelled and delayed for the next few days.

"We've had two runways open all morning long but we still have a lot of snow around the terminal and gate areas, and we are not at parallel runways yet," Hogan said. The winds are still keeping us at less than optimal runway configuration."

The weekend storm dumped around 13 inches of snow at the airport, making this the snowiest April in the Twin Cities since record keeping began in 1884.

The closures forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights. Jason Krob of Minneapolis went to Atlanta on a business trip. He had planned to fly home Saturday morning, but wasn't scheduled to leave Atlanta until late Sunday.

"It's almost like Minnesotans thrive on this," Krob said. "You get to say 'look at what we are getting in the middle of April.' Obviously, people recognize it is an inconvenience, but in the grand scheme of things, if you live in Minnesota you kind of know this is what you get."

But some people flying Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines are not as sanguine.

Martha Fillion of Hopkins was stuck in Mexico overnight after the airline cancelled her flight home Saturday.

She said Sun Country told passengers that they would provide no more seasonal flights from Mexico, and customers were on their own to find a way home.

"The weather is not their fault and I don't expect them to pay for extra nights, [in hotels] Fillion said. "But making someone pay an extra $700 for another flight to get home, that's the awful part." Fillion said she and her friends found a flight on a another airline, but they have to travel through Chicago and then take a bus back home to Minneapolis.

In a statement, Sun Country said it let its customers know as soon as possible that it could not re-accommodate them. The airline is promising travelers full refunds.

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