Sudden Winter Storm Brings Damage, Traffic, Power Problems

By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Saturday could be a very cold night for thousands of people in the Twin Cities. Saturday evening, about 65,000 homes were without power.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation had 130 plows working to clear roadways.

The Minnesota State Patrol said there were  461 crashes and 546 vehicles off the road or spinouts statewide Saturday. There was one fatal crash on Highway 60 in southern Minnesota.

Most of the freeways were clear by early afternoon. But hours earlier, drivers got their first taste of a Minnesota winter.

Forget about easing into winter.

“It kind of came all at one time, kind of a summer-to-winter kind of effect,” said Jeff O’Brien. “It’s a shock having this much all at one time.”

With 6 to 10 inches of snow in some areas of the metro, 60-degree temperatures are now just a fleeting memory.

There is a winter storm warning in far northeastern and far eastern Minnesota until 1 p.m. Sunday. It includes Cook, Lake, St. Louis, Carlton and Pine counties.

There also is a winter weather advisory in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday for eastern and northeastern Minnesota, which stretches as far south as Twin Cities.

Click here to see current watches, warnings and advisories.

For Joanne Fontaine the shock wasn’t so much the amount, but the damage it caused. Tree branches sometimes are no match for several heavy inches of snow. It so happens one fell on her car.

“I didn’t know what to do. Basically I just called the city and told them the tree was there, called the insurance company,” said Fontaine.

She wasn’t the only one making phone calls. Thousands of people around the metro had to pick up the phone and make a call to Xcel Energy.

“I thought it was only supposed to be four to six inches. I’m not really sure when it’s supposed to stop. I hope it stops soon though, because I don’t think our house and trees can take anymore,” said Emily Blankenburg, who lost power at her house after trees fell in her yard.

Saturday afternoon more than 65,000 people were without power, the majority of them in the west metro. The customer-owned Dakota Electric Association said 5,000 members had lost power, mainly in Apple Valley, Burnsville and Eagan. Saturday evening, Dakota Electric lowered that number to 2,000. Connexus Energy, with service in the north metro area, said 10,000 were without power.

“I really don’t like not having power,” said Blankenburg. “It went out around 9:30 and we got it back around 11 a.m. in the morning.”

On the roads, some Minnesotans got a crash course in winter driving. State police received nearly 350 calls of accidents and nearly 400 calls of vehicles off the road statewide.

“It’s kind of a shock to get back into driving moving slow, taking your time,” said O’Brien.

Winter has finally arrived in Minnesota, and it’s just the beginning.

“Five more months of this, but we look forward to it,” said O’Brien.

MnDOT said they will let snow dictate how many trucks they have out. If snow stops and roads are clear, they will pull the trucks for a rest. But if the weather takes another turn for the worse, they can put all 130 of them back out.

There are many closings and event cancellations across the state, including a Special Olympics bowling tournament and the state quarterfinal football games at Lakeville and Farmington. Officials remind people to call ahead to see if an event is canceled before going out on the roads.

The record November snowfall is 46.9 inches in 1991. Part of that is due to the storm that started on Halloween and continued for two more days. Average for the month is 10 inches, which some areas reached Saturday alone.

Click here to see if the city you live in has declared a snow emergency.

Click here to see a photo gallery of this winter storm.

More from Rachel Slavik
  • Brandon

    I know I was in bad shape this morning! My car got stuck.



  • gary

    Your new web page is far to nat’l. We need something more “Minnesotan”. More “Homey” like cco is.

  • Nick

    A 5 year old could create a better website. Bring back the old WCCO website! I’m going to Kare11 to read my news!

  • Jeff Anderson

    The cost of making a decent, local website must of been too much for the short sighted penny pinchers at CBS…this is the biggining of the end for wcco

  • MtkaMom

    I have to agree with everyone. I hate the new site and after faithfully coming here the last 6 years, Kare11 is now my first news source online. I keep coming back hoping they’ve changed the format. Way to national and it doesn’t feel like a website for Minnesotans.

  • Stacey

    This web page is so overwhelming with adds and so confusing and formal to search anything!

  • Barney

    I agree. This web site is a negative move.

  • Andrea

    The new website is awful. I absolutely hate it. It’s not user friendly at all and it takes FOREVER to load on my iphone. What were you thinking WCCO?? Time to go check out KARE 11 like everyone else.

  • Terry

    I agree this web page sucks goodbye going to KSTP

  • Dave

    Not a big fan of the new web site. Lets go back to the way it was.

  • Nancy

    I agree, this web site is terrible. The old one was so much easier to quickly get the information I was looking for. This one leaves much to be desired.

  • Obvious

    Website is not user friendly, and difficult to find headlines and news. I have enjoyed, but will be switching to either KARE or KSTP.

    How about a Good Question segment on how your website numbers drop over the next couple months. I would be interested.

    • Kristin

      I live in South America but have enjoyed checking in daily for “hometown” news. No more. This website is a pain to load and worse to use. I am looking for something new. Thanks for the suggestions of KARE or KSTP.

  • MNDOT+Bad roads this morning

    Boooo for a REALLY BAD job by MNDOT this morning (pinching pennies) and BOOO for a bad new web page.

  • nan andersen

    All stations have lots of advertising now…Perhaps it’s not all bad to know what is going on in the rest of the country or world?!? I

  • Mary Kay

    I agree with everyone above! The web site is not user freindly. I moved from Minnesota back in April, but have been logging on to daily- I think I also will check out one of the other staions….
    I will check back every now and then to see if there every was a “Good Questiion” segemnet done!

  • mark r

    I could hardly believe my eyes when i logged on yesterday and this awful website design for cbslocal came up. if it remains, i leave and go elsewhere to read news. WCCO was my choice, no longer

  • Ryan Lazenby

    This web site is the worst I have seen. I moved away from MN 2 years ago, but have always been checking WCCO…. Today is my last day! I cannot stand this web site….

    I have not ever felt the need to post a comment, but think they should know that they are loosing viewers daily…..

    Good Luck!!!!!

  • Cindy

    Guess I’m not alone with the dislike in the new web page. I hate having to flip page to page to check out all the news. I too will be finding a new site to make my home page. Big mistake WCCO.

  • tommy

    this new website sucks @ss! fire the web designers that created this cr@p. first time i came to this new wcco site, i had to retype 3x thinking i was at the wrong site. awful awful awful!

  • R

    Agreed, the new website is awful. Cmon CCO.

  • Terry

    OMG, this change is enough to make both Washburn and Crosby turn over in thier graves. Who really needs national brand identity here? If I wanted CBS I’d go to I WANT LOCAL! I travel a lot and always came to when out of town. I always would savor the feeling of reaching out thousands of miles to be reunited with the local hometown scene.

    Now I shall go to one of the other local stations for my hometown fix. I’m leaving now…. Goodbye

  • Kelly

    I agree with the comments about this website, and I am a computer Geek. I wanted to find out when the snow emergency in my city went into effect but following the link led me a copy of the city statute not information about today. I hope you take a minute to read what people are saying about the site, it seems to be mostly ads and not much news. If you need to be selling that much of your site I wonder if we should trust any information you give us as “news” if some of your sponsors are involved.

  • Michelle

    Have to add to the general consensus here that this new website format is awful. I’m done with for now. Too bad because I chose this website over all the other local stations because of its format, but will now have to choose a different local news station for my on-line news. And did anyone try to pull this up on BlackBerry? Absolutely terrible.

  • Mary

    27 comments and only 3 of them about the actual article. I’ll be an odd ball – the new layout looks nice. Change is what makes the world go ’round.

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