Travel advisories issued due to powerful winter storm

The system moved into western Minnesota mid-morning, creating difficult road conditions from Marshall in the south all the way to Fargo in the northwest.

MINNEAPOLIS — Xcel Energy is reporting multiple power outages across the state Wednesday from the strong snow storm, impacting more than 14,000 customers.

The Crystal Police Department is reporting that the power outage has impacted some traffic signals, making travel conditions even more difficult with the significant snowfall and gusty winds. 

According to Minnesota State Patrol, as of 4 p.m. troopers have responded to 251 crashes resulting in 41 injuries, all believed to be non life-threatening. There have also been an additional 129 vehicles that have needed assistance after slipping off the roads as well as 19 jackknifed semi trucks.

The Renville County Sheriff’s Office has requested that the Minnesota National Guard open the armory in Olivia for motorists who are stranded in the area.

The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office is reporting snow plows getting pulled off the road because of the poor visibility, urging people in the area to stay indoors.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is reporting that eastbound traffic on Interstate 94 near Monticello is closed because of a multi-vehicle crash. 

Eden Prairie police reported on Twitter Wednesday afternoon just after 3 p.m. that they are responding to an eight-vehicle crash at Flying Cloud Drive and Charlson Road.

The system moved into western Minnesota mid-morning, creating difficult road conditions from Marshall in the south all the way to Fargo in the northwest.

At 11:30 a.m. the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) sent out an updated no travel advisory for parts of west central Minnesota. Included in the advisory are Clay, Traverse and Wilkin Counties, the northwestern corner of Otter Tail County, and travel is not advised on state and federal highways in Big Stone and Stevens Counties, along with western portions of Grant and Swift Counties due to dangerous driving conditions.

No travel is advised on I-94 from Moorhead to Rothsay and Highway 10 from Moorhead to Hawley, as blowing snow is causing whiteout conditions. Visibility is poor, in some areas down to zero. Snowplows will continue to operate, but motorists are advised not to travel in this area until conditions improve.

KARE 11 meteorologist Ben Dery says that as of 1 p.m. rain has changed over to snow as expected, and road conditions have begun to deteriorate in the metro. He notes reports of ice completely covering roads from just south of St. Cloud through Hutchinson all the way to New Ulm. “This is where temps were warm this morning, and water flash-froze into ice,” Dery explains. “This is possible for the metro as temperatures continue to rapidly cool. On top of the ice will be quite a bit of snow. So a hard, crusty inch or two underneath a bunch of fluffier snow.”

Ben says blowing and drifting is already happening out west, and can soon be expected in the Twin Cities metro. Wind gusts between 40 and 60 miles per hour will create white-out conditions in some areas. 

RELATED: Latest KARE 11 Weather Forecast

Snow emergencies are starting to be declared around the Twin Cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul. Monitor your city’s website for when these emergencies will expire and for any additional information regarding the city’s street laws.

A check of the MnDOT 511 map shows travel alerts on dozens of roads, and State Patrol sergeant Jesse Grabow posted video of a vehicle off the road on Highway 10 between Moorhead and Glyndon. Blowing snow made it nearly impossible to see. 

MnDOT posted that no travel is advised in the far northwestern part of the state, due to blowing snow and limited visibility. “Challenging road conditions across the state right now and this could be coming your way soon,” read a post on the department’s Twitter account, along with some blizzard-like pics from the cabs of snowplows in various parts of Minnesota. 

If you do have to go out, the Minnesota State Patrol reminds motorists to keep these winter driving “must-dos” in mind.

  • Slow down and increase following distance
  • Headlights on, cruise control off
  • Use caution around plows – give them plenty of room, for their sake and yours
  • Check road conditions at before you hit the road
  • If there is a “no travel” advisory in your area, or the place you’re headed… follow it

KARE 11 will be monitoring conditions on roads statewide and will update this story with the latest developments. 

RELATED: Travelers take to the skies for one of the busiest travel weekends of the year

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