MnDOT Snow Cleanup Across Metro is a Work in Progress

Updated: 01/31/2014 6:14 AM By: Leslie Dyste

Two people come to the aid of a motorist with traction problems in the snow Thursday in downtown Minneapolis.
Two people come to the aid of a motorist with traction problems in the snow Thursday in downtown Minneapolis.
Photo: Photo: AP

Measurable snow caused major traffic delays Thursday.

The Minnesota State Patrol says troopers responded to 599 incidents as of 3 p.m. Thursday statewide.

While it was still slow, the evening commute moved along a little faster than the morning commute.

Six inches of snow arrived at the worst possible time Thursday. The storm started around 5 a.m., just in time for rush hour. Snow-covered highways wreaked havoc on winter-weary travelers.

If you're wondering why you might have driven miles this morning without seeing a plow pass by, Marc Fishbauch of MnDOT says that's because they were fighting the same battle you were. "Our vehicles were in the rush hour traffic, so our cycle times take longer."

Throughout the day, MnDOT trucks plowed, spread sodium chloride, then plowed again, all in an effort to ease the commute home. But, when the snow falls fast and furious, plows can only do so much- that's where you come in. Fishbauch warns drivers to keep matters from going bad to worse saying, "If we get vehicles following too close and they won't maintain the distance between vehicles and maintain the proper stopping distance between vehicles, then that may be an issue."

Multiple crashes backed up traffic on Interstate 35 southbound near Highway 8 in Forest Lake. The right lane of the interstate was blocked as crews responded to the scene, and many vehicles were seen off the road. At this point it's unclear if there were any injuries. 

On the other side of the North Metro, a driver was pulled from a burning vehicle on Highway 169 at Interstate 694 in Maple Grove early Thursday morning.

The Minnesota State Patrol says the victim was transported to North Memorial Medical Center with serious but non-life threatening injuries. The incident happened at 5:20 a.m. and blocked two lanes of the southbound highway.

An incident involving multiple vehicles in the Lowry Tunnel caused lanes to close Thursday afternoon, which caused major traffic delays on I-94.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, are among a list of cities, that have declared snow emergencies. Meteorologist Dave Dahl says temperatures will drop into the single digits and teens below zero in the metro overnight. Friday will probably be the coldest of the next several days with single-digit highs. The weekend should warm into the teens.

"There aren't any huge snowstorms on the horizon just yet, but there are signs of a pretty major shift in the jet stream late next week or into the following weekend," KSTP Meteorologist Dave Dahl said. "This could be the first indications of a slightly more significant snowfall headed this way."