With temperatures nudging into the 40s this week, drivers might be tempted to speed along on newly thawed roads where ice and snow have melted away.
But road officials are warning drivers to slow down and take extra care driving in this dangerous thaw-and-freeze phase of spring, when streets and highways can be deceptively icy.
“As much as it’s melting, there’s probably going to be some refreeze,” Kevin Gutknecht, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, told the Star Tribune. “Folks need to slow down and take their time. If you’ve got a bare spot of pavement and ice on either side, probably drive like it was ice.”
Slick road conditions have contributed to at least eight deaths in the last two weeks, the Star Tribune reports.
In one crash, three teens and a 20-year-old were killed Friday night in a collision with a pickup on icy Highway 14 near Sleepy Eye in southern Minnesota. The four were passengers riding without seat belts in a Pontiac car, and the driver lost control. The driver was hospitalized in critical condition. Three people in the pickup had injuries that were not life-threatening.
Sleepy Eye High School was to open Monday from 10 a.m. to noon for students to gather and mourn their classmates.
Meanwhile, many Minnesota cities face a road-salt shortage, and some municipalities are mixing in sand to help stretch their supply, but of course sand does not melt ice, the Pioneer Press reports. Salt expenditures and mounting road-crew overtime costs could make this winter one of the most expensive ever for some cities, the newspaper reports.
The forecast this week calls for a bit of a temperature roller coaster, with a high in the metro near 50 degrees Monday, then high of 37 Tuesday and just 28 Wednesday, the National Weather Service says. But Thursday and Friday will be warmer again, with highs near 42 degrees.
Sunday marked the warmest the Twin Cities had been since Nov. 16, WCCO reports.
High temperatures Monday across the state will be in the 40s, except in the far northwest corner of Minnesota, where it will be in the upper 30s:
Rochester and Mankato: 41
Grand Rapids: 42