GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Freezing rain and ice accumulations in the metro made for dangerous driving conditions starting Sunday night and continuing into Monday morning's commute.
MnDOT's Twitter feed was littered with dozens of crashes and spinouts all over the grid as commuters attempted to get to work in one piece, and slowdowns were commonplace beginning around 6 a.m.
The Minnesota State Patrol said between 5 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., troopers responded to 261 crashes, 26 of them involving injuries. Another 182 vehicles spun out or left the road, and 12 semis jackknifed. One of those incidents happened on I-35E southbound near Cliff Road just before 11 a.m., shutting down all lanes. Traffic was left to inch by on the shoulder.
Drivers weren't the only ones impacted: Metro Transit alerted users that nearly seven of ten buses on the road were running an average of 12 minutes behind as of 8:30 a.m. Light rail service on the Blue Line was also running significantly behind schedule.
Blue Line passenger Shannon Chapa told KARE 11 that her normal commute takes an hour and 20 minutes, using buses and the light rail. Monday morning it took her four hours to get to work.
Metro Transit spokesperson Howie Padilla said there had been consistent ice problems on the Blue Line Monday morning.
"There was such an accumulation of ice that it started breaking up the electric current and affecting the current going from the top catenary system down to the rails which is the ground," Padilla explained.
Once the power is interrupted, trains are programmed to automatically turn off to avoid damage.
"A mechanic has to come out and reset everything. The issue of course is once that takes time to be reset, there's ice accumulating in front of that," Padilla said.
It then caused a chain reaction.
"I have an interview at the airport and I think I'm going to be delayed because of the train," said Abdi Aziz Warsame of Minneapolis.
The National Weather Service Twin Cities warned on Twitter that roads were becoming "very treacherous" on Sunday after the Super Bowl ended.
A winter weather advisory was in effect until 9 a.m. on Monday morning for locations along and east of a Redwood Falls to Long Prairie line and in Wisconsin for locations along and west of an Ellsworth to Ladysmith line.
The National Weather Service warned of freezing rain across the advisory area that continued through Monday morning. Freezing rain is causing hazardous driving conditions.
Around 5 a.m. Monday, the freezing rain was expected to turn to snow with cooling temperatures. Although most of the precipitation was expected to be over by the morning commute, drivers experienced snow and slippery conditions.
A wind chill advisory was in effect for portions of western Minnesota until 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. Wind chills of 25 below to 30 below were expected Monday and Tuesday.
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