The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 9, 2012

Storm brings heavy snow to Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota

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MINNEAPOLIS —

The National Weather Service reported at 17.3 inches at Sacred Heart and 15.5 inches at Granite Falls in southwestern Minnesota and more than 8 inches in Aberdeen, S.D.  Reports of 7 to 9 inches were common across the Twin Cities area around Sunday afternoon.  Rochester’s 292-day streak of days without at least an inch of snow fell around 6 a.m. Sunday when its airport recorded 1.1 inches.

In Wisconsin, 7 inches were recorded near Grantsburg while nearly 5 inches fell in La Crosse. It was the first snowfall greater than 2 inches that La Crosse had seen since Jan. 21.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported difficult driving conditions across much of the southern two-thirds of the state, with no travel advised and several highways closed in west-central Minnesota and southwestern Minnesota. MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the agency pulled its plows off the roads in the Granite Falls, Madison, Marshall and Montevideo areas.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported about 300 crashes statewide from Saturday night through noon Sunday, with more than 30 involving injuries, but no fatalities. Lt. Eric Roeske also reported more than 300 spinouts or vehicles off the road.

Minneapolis, St. Paul, several suburban communities and St. Cloud declared snow emergencies, meaning parking restrictions will be in effect until the streets are plowed.

Around 150 flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were canceled due to the storm, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said, but he said crews were able to keep at least one runway open. Delta Air Lines, the airport’s main carrier, said travelers through the Twin Cities and Duluth could rebook their flights without charge. The Federal Aviation Administration said the snow delayed some flights by an average of about 90 minutes.

In South Dakota, officials closed Interstate 90 between Chamberlain and Sioux Falls and Intestate 29 from Sioux Falls to Sisseton because of blizzard conditions. Greg Fuller, director of operations for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, said travel would “continue to be a challenge, and patience is part of making safe choices.”

The National Weather Service said that as of Sunday morning, Aberdeen had received 8.3 inches of snow and Sisseton in far northeastern South Dakota had 5.5 inches.

Shelly Anderson at the Coffee Cup truck stop on Interstate 29 near Summit, S.D., said some truckers and other travelers waited out the storm there, but for the most part motorists stayed off the roads Saturday night and Sunday morning.

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