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Storm rages; roads close in southern Minnesota

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A storm that was forecast to be the strongest winter storm of the season is living up to its billing.

Heavy snow and strong winds closed most of the roads and highways in south central Minnesota, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation's website.

The Star Tribune reports white-out conditions in the southwest and south central part of the state forced MnDOT officials to pull plows off some roads Thursday night and to advise no travel for motorists.

Snow began falling throughout the metro area and much of southern Minnesota Thursday afternoon.

Star Tribune chief meteorologist Paul Douglas said, "I suspect this will be the biggest snowfall of the winter to date. Plan on significant delays and cancellations Friday morning, with travel slowly improving during the day."

The National Weather Service has extended a blizzard warning to include much of south central and southwestern Minnesota, while a winter storm warning remains in effect for eastern Minnesota and the metro area. The weather service says much of southern and eastern Minnesota can expect between 8 and 12 inches of snow by the time the storm moves out on Friday.

The storm has forced many schools across the region to already announce either late starts or closings already, according to KARE 11.

KSTP reports several communities have issued snow emergencies.

  • The City of Bloomington declared a snow emergency beginning Friday at 5 p.m.
  • The City of Eden Prairie declared a snow emergency beginning Friday beginning at 12 a.m.
  • The City of Golden Valley declared a snow emergency starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday
  • The City of Minneapolis declared a snow emergency beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday
  • The City of Red Wing declared a snow emergency beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday
  • The City of St. Louis Park declared a winter parking ban.
  • The City of St. Paul declared a snow emergency beginning at 9 p.m. on Thursday
  • The City of West St. Paul declared a snow emergency beginning at 2 a.m. on Friday

The Minnesota State Patrol responded to 174 crashes statewide, one of those crashes was fatal.

According to the state patrol, the crash happened in Wabasha County along Highway 42. Two vehicles were involved in that crash, no further details have been reported.

KSTP says 15 of the crashes involved injuries two of them resulted in serious injuries. A total of 393 vehicles either spun out or went off the road, according to authorities.

The snow is likely the culprit of a power outage in Rochester that occurred when a transformer exploded in the city. Rochester isn't the only city having trouble with the power.

WCCO reports more than 11,000 Xcel Energy customers lost power on Thursday night, according to the utility's website.

Before Thursday’s storm, the metro area has had more than 47 inches of snow this season – 8 inches more than normal, according to the Star Tribune. This has caused cities to re-evaluate and ration their snow budgets.

Minneapolis Public Works is rationing its salt usage, according to KSTP. Mike Kennedy, who works with Minneapolis Public Works, told KSTP the city is using its resources at a much higher rate than normal and must distribute them accordingly to make it through the rest of winter – the same goes for many other cities.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency and urged residents to prepare for the storm. Rochester Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Steve Belau told the Rochester Post Bulletin, "We hope that people will be mindful of the National Weather Service warnings and not venture out [during the storm]." Local officials in the area will staff personnel accordingly for the storm, according to the newspaper.

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