MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The ongoing snow event keeps on putting a snarl in everyone's Wednesday plans, and many are going to have to find alternatives for overnight parking, as well.
Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have declared snow emergencies effective Wednesday at 9 p.m. A number of other cities had also announced snow emergencies and parking restrictions, including Crystal, West St. Paul, Plymouth, St. Paul, Robbinsdale, Mendota Heights, Bloomington, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. Click here for more snow emergency information.
As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, Minneapolis had not yet declared a snow emergency, but Minneapolis Public Schools announced that all after-school activities would be canceled "due to weather-related travel conditions."
At least one fatal crash was reported. A teenage driver was killed in Lakeville at about 9:45 a.m. after apparently losing control on a slush-covered roadway and broadsiding another vehicle. The crash happened along Country Road 9 at 190th Street. Authorities with the school district said the victim was Lakeville North High School junior Alyssa Ettl.
Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol said since midnight, state troopers handled 481 crashes statewide with 53 involving injuries and one death.
Roeske said 192 vehicles went off the road or spun out, and one semi-truck jack knifed. Of those 175 crashes, 137 were in the Twin Cities metro. Roeske said another update will be provided after the evening rush hour.
"This is probably the worst commute of the season so far," WCCO director of meteorology Mike Augustyniak said.
Wednesday morning traffic was brought to a crawl in many parts of the Twin Cities, and Metro Transit reported that only much less than half of its bus fleet was running on time during the morning rush hour. There were also reported light-rail delays.
Augustyniak said the very northern part of the Twin Cities metro area could see from 3 to 6 inches by the end of the day, and almost every other part of the Twin Cities should still see at least 3 inches.
The unrelenting storm has spread about 2 feet of snow in northeastern Minnesota continued for a third day Wednesday. The heavy snow and ice has contributed to hundreds of traffic accidents around Minnesota and was cited by authorities in at least five fatal crashes since Monday.
The snow storm closed the University of Minnesota Duluth and most other schools in the area and even shut down the Bentleyville holiday lights display in Duluth.
A National Weather Service observer reported 28 inches of snow north of Two Harbors Wednesday morning. Duluth was buried under at least 18 inches of snow. Much of the region will see another 8 to 12 inches Wednesday, forecasters said, and by the time the winter storm warning ends Thursday morning, snowfall totals could approach 3 feet in some areas.
"We don't get three-day snowfalls very often . every few years. Even for the North Shore and Duluth, for a storm to hit 30 inches, that's pretty unusual," said Carol Christenson, National Weather Service meteorologist in Duluth. "For us to even forecast snow totals like this, it goes against the averages."
Kelly Fleissner, who leads Duluth's snowplowing efforts for more than 400 miles of city streets, said city crews worked 16-hour shifts during the height of the storm Monday night and Tuesday. He said they will be out in full force again Wednesday.
"We had so much snow that we had to stay on the main roads all night into Tuesday morning. So we were late getting into the residential streets. I know it's been tough for people just to get out of their neighborhoods. But please, be patient," Fleissner told the Duluth News Tribune.
Bitter cold moves into the state Thursday, with temperatures expected to barely make it to zero in northern Minnesota.
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