Disastrous road conditions leave motorists stranded in southern Minnesota

Countless spinouts and crashes have been reported.
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Snow Rochester drift stranded

Cars are stranded on Hwy. 14 west of Rochester. 

UPDATE 12:45 P.M.

There are reports of absolutely nightmarish conditions on the roads in southern Minnesota, with the majority of major routes closed down due to blizzard conditions and deep snowdrifts.

Pictures are emerging of vehicles stranded in heavy snow around Rochester, with the picture above being sent to us by Sarah Donahoe, who commented: "It's insane down here."

Meanwhile the Minnesota 511 traffic alert site shows dozens of ongoing spinouts, stalls and crashes across the southern portion of the state.

The shutdown of I-90 has been extended to the Wisconsin border, stretching all the way to Lakefield in the west. 

I-35 is still closed from Faribault to the Iowa border, while other roads that are shutdown include US-52, MN-15, and US-63, among many more.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 12.32.39 PM

Late last night, Gov. Tim Walz issued a peacetime state of emergency, scrambling the Minnesota National Guard to go out and rescue stranded motorists.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports that snowdrifts are as high as 6 feet, and not only are cars getting stuck, but its snowplows are too.

Counties in affected areas are pleading with motorists not to go out, with conditions so bad in, for example, Waseca County, the county is keeping its snowplows off the roads until conditions improve.

SUNDAY 9 A.M.

High winds whipping around heavy snow that fell Saturday night through Sunday morning in southern Minnesota has created extremely dangerous driving conditions. 

Interstate 90 west of I-35 was closed late Saturday, and around 3 a.m. the Minnesota Department of Transportation closed I-35 from Faribault all the way to the Iowa border, in addition to numerous roads being closed where blizzard conditions are being experienced.

Because of the impossible driving conditions, Freeborn and Steele counties requested assistance from the Minnesota National Guard to help rescue stranded motorists, and the request was met with approval from Governor Tim Walz, who declared a peacetime state of emergency. 

Troops were activated in those counties to conduct search and rescue missions for people stranded in their vehicles. The National Guard uses a small unit support vehicle with tracks on it that allows it to get through roads that have become impassable due to blowing and drifting snow. 

At least three people were rescued late Saturday night, according to Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management.    

Bottom line: everyone in southern Minnesota is being encouraged to stay off the roads if at all possible until driving conditions improve. 

As of 7:15 a.m., there are widespread no travel advisories (purple) and at least 10 state highways closed (red buttons). 

The pink and blue mean roads are completely covered (pink) or partially covered (blue) in snow.

The pink and blue mean roads are completely covered (pink) or partially covered (blue) in snow.

These are roads that have been closed by MnDOT. 

  • I-90 between Ceylon and Welcome
  • MN 86 from Jackson to Sherburne
  • I-35 from Faribault to the Iowa state line
  • US 14 from near Eagle Lake to Waterville
  • MN 4 from Sherburne to near FAirmont
  • US 169 from Amboy to the Iowa state line
  • MN 254 between County Rd. 17 and I-90
  • MN 253 between County Rd. 2 and I-90
  • MN 22 from near Wells to the Iowa state line
  • MN 15 from near Fairmont to the Iowa state line

Click here to get the latest road conditions from MnDOT, although driving conditions aren't expected to improve much until the winds die down Sunday evening. 

The blizzard warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday. 

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