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Travel advisories lifted, but road conditions remain challenging

An unusual sequence that began with rain, and then moved to heavy snow and high winds left a layer of ice that is difficult for MnDOT plow crews to remove.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The powerful storm system that socked Minnesota in the jaw Wednesday has moved east, but the snow and ice that covers highways and side roads in communities across the state will challenge motorists for days to come. 

The Minnesota State Patrol reported a total of 346 vehicle crashes between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday - with none of them fatal. This included 333 spin outs and 13 jackknifed semis.

An unusual sequence that began with rain, and then moved to heavy snow and high winds left a layer of ice that's difficult for MnDOT plow crews to remove. Frigid temps mean chemicals used to melt the ice are either ineffective, or they're working far slower than usual. 

The result is that roads across the Twin Cities metro are a mixed bag, at best. Posts on KARE 11's Facebook page reflect poor conditions on the heaviest-used roads like I-494, and Highways 100 and 169.

"(Highway) 169 glare ice from Prior Lake to Edina. Crosstown near Edina is icy too, a number of spin outs on my way in," wrote one motorist. 

"Hwy 100 is garbage," added another driver. "Mostly ice so I drove in the right lane that they haven't really plowed! But there were 2 people on 494 and 100 who just blew by like it was nothing. Please don't be that person!! Not safe!!"

RELATED: Gov. Walz activates National Guard for emergency storm response

State Patrol Sergeant Jesse Grabow, who works roads in the northwest region, posted on his Twitter feed early Thursday that while many "no travel advisories" that were issued Wednesday have been lifted, some roads remain closed due to drifting snow and ice. He urged motorists to pack their vehicles with extra outdoor gear and a winter travel survival kit. 

Grabow also included his list of personal must-dos. Among them:

  • Use common sense - if public safety officials say not to travel, don't
  • Keep cruise control off - powertrain engaging when wheels are on ice (say on bridge surface) can send you into a spin
  • Allow more following distance - tires don't stop as quickly on slippery surfaces
  • Wear a seatbelt - goes without saying
  • Fuel up when you reach half a tank - can keep vehicle running and warm in case of emergency
  • Keep a phone charger in your vehicle

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