MINNEAPOLIS - It doesn't matter whether you're traveling by ground or by air, a winter storm system roaring across parts of Minnesota Monday is making for slow going ... or no going at all.
Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Pat Hogan said as of 2:30 p.m., 350 flights at MSP International Airport have been canceled due to snow and gusty winds, and flights that are late are delayed by an average of six hours.
The two main runways have been shut down due to tricky wind conditions and limited visibility, and the alternative runways (called crosswind runways) that are open have significantly less capacity. Making matters worse is that snow is so heavy one of those two runways has to be shut down every 30 minutes for plowing: Once that one is clear, the other one is shut down and plowed.
"A lot of flights simply won't make it in and out today," Hogan said, with resignation.Hogan reminds those who are scheduled to fly to call their airline and check flight status. At last check, two of the four runways were open at MSP. There were 550 canceled flights and about 1,000 travelers stranded for the night.With as much as a foot of snow expected in parts of southern Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is urging folks to stay at home and avoid traveling. Rochester, Albert Lea and Winona are among the school districts that closed Monday as road conditions deteriorated. As of 4:30 p.m. Monday, the patrol reports 184 crashes statewide since midnight. Thirteen of those crashes involved injuries, and a serious injury accident happened in Eden Prairie, but no fatalities are reported. Nearly 300 vehicles spun out or left the road, and 30 jack-knifed semis were reported.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has lifted a no travel advisory for parts of southwest Minnesota. But the agency says motorists should be aware the blowing snow is still an issue.
The National Weather Service reports 17 inches of snow fell near Owatonna as of late Monday afternoon. Snow emergencies are also in effect for both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Travel was not advised Monday evening in the following counties: Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Martin, Nobles, Rock, Waseca and Watonwan.
For the latest travel conditions, visit 511mn.org.