The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 9, 2012

Storm brings heavy snow to Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota

MINNEAPOLIS — The heaviest snowstorm to hit the region in two winters dumped heavy snow across a broad belt of Minnesota including the Twin Cities area Sunday, as well as parts of western Wisconsin.

Forecasters said up to 15 inches of snow were possible in the Twin Cities by Sunday night. The slow-moving storm caused difficult driving and scores of mostly minor traffic accidents across much of Minnesota, highway closures in eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota, and flight cancellations and delays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The Twin Cities’ heaviest snowfall last winter was 4.2 inches on Dec. 3. The heaviest snows of the winter of 2010-11 were 11.8 inches on Feb. 20, 2011, and 16.3 inches on Dec. 11, 2010.

That last storm caused the Metrodome to collapse — forcing the Vikings to play the final two games of the season elsewhere. The project to restore the inflatable roof cost $22.7 million, and officials there weren’t taking chances on a repeat Sunday.

Steve Maki, director of facilities for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority, said they cranked up the heat after Sunday’s Vikings-Bears game and planned to keep it that way until the storm passed. He said everything was going well.

“What we don’t want to happen is 21 inches in eight hours,” Maki said. “We can handle it over 15-16 hours but eight hours gets a little tough sometimes.”

Sportswriters who complained about the oppressive postgame heat up in the press box could have had a pretty nice sauna if they splashed some water on the rocks, Maki said jokingly.

The Metrodome looked only about three-quarters full at kickoff for the sold-out game, and fans streamed in late, with beads of melting snow apparent on everyone’s jackets.

A blizzard warning was out for much of eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota, while a winter storm warning was out for much of central and eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

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