Updated: 4:15 p.m.
The State Patrol reported more than 300 crashes on Minnesota highways in just five hours on Monday morning, as an early-season light snow made for difficult driving and walking conditions.
While it was a headache for many drivers and pedestrians, the snow also was a welcome sight for Minnesotans eager to get out skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and pursuing other winter pursuits.
In addition to the 322 crashes, authorities also reported 67 spinouts and three jackknifed semis between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., just on state highways — not counting county and city roads.
The Patrol said 25 of the morning crashes involved injuries, but no serious injuries or fatalities were reported.
Among the many crashes, authorities reported a car went off Interstate 94 and ended up in the Buffalo River east of Moorhead at about 7:30 a.m. Monday. No injuries were reported.
And a driver suffered minor injuries when their car slid underneath a semi trailer along U.S. Highway 169 in Bloomington, just south of Interstate 494.
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Monday morning's snow brought the first widespread snowy morning commute of the season across the state. The Minnesota Department of Transportation's traffic maps lit up with numerous reports of crashes, spinouts and significant travel delays in the Twin Cities and elsewhere around the state.
Metro Transit in the Twin Cities reported as many as 60 percent of its bus routes were delayed at times on Monday morning, but any remaining delays were minimal as of Monday afternoon.
Difficult driving conditions continued around the region into the afternoon. MnDOT said it had hundreds of plows out on the roads, in addition to local and county crews.
The Patrol urged drivers to slow down, turn on their headlights, and turn off cruise control as they travel in the snow.
Snow totals reported to the National Weather Service as of late Monday afternoon included 5 inches at Little Marais on the North Shore, 4.2 inches at Minnesota Lake in southern Minnesota, and 3.8 inches at Fridley and New Brighton in the Twin Cities metro area. There’ll be additional chances for snow through the week.
A winter weather advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. Monday from south-central Minnesota northeast through the Twin Cities and into western Wisconsin. Total snowfall of two to four inches is expected.
Winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings also are in effect through Tuesday evening for Lake and Cook counties in northeast Minnesota, where some locations along the North Shore may see more than a foot of snow.
Whether it’s a couple inches or a foot, the snow will be a welcome addition to the manmade snow already coating ski hills and trails around Minnesota. After near-record warmth in parts of Minnesota last week, a drop in temperatures over the week allowed for good snowmaking over the weekend.
Before Monday's snow, Duluth had seen about six inches of snow this season — though just 0.9 inches this month, about four inches below normal.
Going into Monday the Twin Cities had seen less than a half-inch of snow this season — more than two inches below normal.
More light snow is in the forecast in the coming days; find forecast updates on MPR Weather's Updraft blog.