Updated: 02/21/2014 5:39 PM KSTP.com By: Megan Stewart
A semi blocks all lanes of Interstate 94 westbound in Albertville.
3rd Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis.
Photo: Photo courtesy of Juan Carlos
Snow from Thursday's storm is creating treacherous driving conditions in much of Minnesota, especially south of the Twin Cities metro. Drivers in western Wisconsin are also dealing with dangerous conditions.
Road conditions have prompted all Minnesota State Patrol command staff to suspend their daily duties and provide assistance on state highways.
“We’re receiving reports from veteran troopers in several areas of the state of conditions that are as bad as they’ve seen in 25 years,” State Patrol Lt. Col. Matt Langer said. “We need motorists to avoid traveling unless it’s absolutely necessary. It is simply too dangerous right now and MnDOT needs room to clear the roads of snow and ice.”
The State Patrol expects road conditions to remain treacherous for the next several days.
The State Patrol has responded to 404 crashes since 2 p.m. Thursday; thirty-two involved injuries, and one was fatal. There were also 1,326 spin-outs and 40 semi jackknifes in that same time frame.
Many freeways in the metro have a thick layer of ice under the snow, which makes it hard to tell where the lanes are. Snowdrifts are also covering part of the freeways in open areas across the metro. Ramps were also covered with snow and snowdrifts -- some deep.
Troopers are investigating a fatal crash in Wabasha County in southeastern Minnesota on Highway 42 at Township Road 234. The driver of a van was killed in a crash with a semi on ice-covered Highway 42.
MnDOT is advising no travel in much of the southern part of the state due to blowing snow, icy patches and reduced visibility.
Officials say plow crews were pulled off the roads Thursday night in Mower County due to blizzard conditions. Most of the plows were taken off the roads in Olmsted County.
Gov. Mark Dayton issued an emergency order Friday, calling for the Minnesota National Guard to help with recovery and sheltering of stranded motorists in parts of central and southeastern Minnesota.
In northeastern Minnesota, the National Weather Service reported 14½ inches of snow had fallen by Friday morning in Alborn, 13 inches in Twig and 11 inches in Proctor.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, current conditions range from snow-covered roads in the west and north, to slippery stretches in the southern part of the region. The Wisconsin State Patrol says troopers have responded to a number of crashes. They are encouraging drivers to delay travel.
Interstate 35 southbound from Owatonna to Iowa was completely closed earlier Friday morning. It reopened at noon.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation tweeted around 1 a.m. Friday that drivers were stranded on that stretch of the highway. Drivers can be fined up to $1,000 if they’re caught driving on a closed road.