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Slick roads mess up evening commute; power outages reported

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Road conditions continued to deteriorate Tuesday as freezing drizzle and snow fell throughout the day – meaning the evening drive home is likely to be unpleasant.

"It isn't a big storm, but it is causing headaches out there with the driving," KSTP Meteorologist Ken Barlow said.

In addition, a couple of communities reported power outages due to the weather.

Dozens of crashes were reported Tuesday morning in the metro area, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Members of the Forest Lake alpine ski team were involved in an accident on their way to Biwabik for the state ski tournament, but they were unharmed. A passenger in the other vehicle was killed, the Forest Lake Times reports.

The accident occurred around 10:15 a.m. on Highway 33 near Cloquet, when a vehicle driven by coach Grant Lindemer was struck by a who turned into his path. A passenger in the other car died, according to the State Patrol.

The Times says six ski team members and an assistant coach were in Lindemer's vehicle at the time. They were examined at a local hospital and then drove to Biwabik in another vehicle.

The Ely Echo tweeted that the power went out for a few thousand residents mid-afternoon Tuesday, but that it's expected to be restored to all customers by about 5 p.m.

About a thousand customers in west central Minnesota also lost power for about three hours Tuesday morning, according to the West Central Tribune.

Roads in poor condition

Two bands of snow will affect Minnesota through the early evening. #wxmn#wxwipic.twitter.com/EXazcZZzsE

As with most winter storms, the varying precipitation led to slippery streets, and snow is expected to continue falling in many places through the evening hours.

By Tuesday afternoon, roads in central and southern Minnesota were listed as partially covered with snow or ice (blue on the map at left), while roads in northwestern Minnesota were listed as completely covered with snow (purple on the map).

Wet, slushy and slick spots on the roads in the metro led to a number of crashes and spinouts Tuesday morning. Between 8 a.m. and noon, 58 crashes were reported and 15 vehicle spinouts/vehicles off the road, State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson tweeted.

A winter weather advisory is in effect until at least 9 p.m. for the majority of Minnesota, but snow is expected to taper off between 4 and 5 p.m. in the Twin Cities, KARE 11 says.

The metro could see 1-2 inches of snow by the end of the day, with heavier amounts – up to 4 inches – possible in northern Minnesota, the National Weather Service says.

There were also reports of thunder with heavy snow in Farmington and Northfield Tuesday afternoon, and two in-cloud lightning strikes were spotted in southern Dakota County, the National Weather Service tweeted.

As the storm moves out, strong winds are expected to develop. This could make travel "nearly impossible" on roads where the ice doesn't melt, the Star Tribune notes, and winds could also damage electrical lines if they are coated in ice.

Bitter and blustery conditions follow this blast of snow. Temperatures are expected to plunge Wednesday into Thursday, with a high of 10 degrees forecast for the Twin Cities, the National Weather Service says.

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