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Heavy snow creates slow commute across metro area

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Heavy early morning snow across the Twin Cities metro area is creating a slow start for Presidents' Day for commuters because of slippery roads and poor visibility, the Star Tribune reports.

WCCO says a winter storm warning is in effect and the metro area is expected to get 4 to 6 inches of snow by noon. The National Weather Service says the heaviest and most intense snow, however, is expected to fall before 9 a.m.

Warning that the snow "could gum up" the morning commute, Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutkneckt tweeted, "Leave early if you can, slow down."

KSTP ranks the hassle factor for the Presidents' Day morning rush hour as a 10. "Be prepared for slow to gridlock conditions," the station warned.

The headaches come despite a lighter than usual traffic flow because of Presidents' Day. Government agencies as well as Minneapolis and St. Paul schools are closed because of the holiday, but some other schools across the state are open to make up for lost days due to the extreme cold last month, the Star Tribune says.

Several schools that are in session Monday, however, are delayed by two hours because of the snow, WCCO reports.

The forecast by MPR News says conditions will ease up after the winter blast in the morning hours. Afternoon temperatures will reach 34 degrees so the evening commute should be easier.

It appears that the fresh snow Monday won't be around long. KARE 11 says the high Tuesday is expected to reach 40 with sunny skies. The station also forecasts mild temperatures through the rest of week before dropping to the teens and 20s by the weekend.

The Pioneer Press notes some of the biggest snowfall totals could come in western Wisconsin, with 7 inches possible along U.S. Highway 53.

Outstate, the Duluth News Tribune reports that winter storm advisories and warnings are in effect for the northeastern part of the state as well. Snowfall from a quick-moving storm forecast to move across the region may exceed a half-foot in some areas, especially east of Duluth along the North Shore and in Northwestern Wisconsin. Drivers there are also being warned to be prepared for heavy snow, slippery roads and poor visibility on Monday.

The St. Cloud Times reports that between 2 and 5 inches of snow is in the forecast for central Minnesota. The Winona Daily News said that accumulations of 3 to 7 inches are expected in the southern part of the state, with the heaviest snowfall expected Monday morning as an inch of snow expected every hour.

It's the latest chapter in the long, cold tale of the winter of 2013-14. Duluth set a record Sunday for most sub-zero days in one winter when the mercury went negative for the 60th time this season.

The Mankato Free Press tallied some numbers to illustrate the severity of the season, including these tidbits: since the start of December 68 percent of the days have been colder than normal; 38 days have been below zero; on 16 of those days the temperature fell to double digits below.

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