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Morning Snow Catches Drivers, MnDOT Off Guard

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Metro motorists were suddenly and unexpectedly thrown into winter mode on Monday morning. According to the State Patrol, at least 50 spinouts and fender-benders were reported by the morning’s end.

Broken tail lights, twisted signs and bruised egos were all on the menu.

Motorist Shannon Murray expected a slow commute, but nothing like what she experienced.

“I think for the first snowfall, I think everyone kind of takes it easy. But yeah, it was a little shocking how slow it was this morning,” Murray said.

At the I-94 and Lexington Avenue exit, evening rush hour seemed relatively calm. But that wasn’t the case around 9:00 a.m. as vehicles were sliding out of control.

A thin coating of snow hid glare ice underneath, causing even the most cautious drivers to lose control.

MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard says his department was blindsided by what Mother Nature dished out.

“No, we did not pre-treat for this. This storm was not expected to be anything more than flurries,” Barnard said.

Because it was the first snow of the season, roadways were bare of residual salt. By the time MnDOT got its crews out around 7:30 a.m., the snow melted by tires was already refreezing and bonding to pavement.

“We had a lot of refreeze and slippery condition caused by that,” Barnard said.

And with winter driving skills a bit rusty, motorists like Lajuanda Flowers we’re thrown a curveball by the elements.

“I’m thinking it’s was just…a surprise, because I didn’t know it was snowing until I was outside,” Flowers said.

For the numerous spinouts and fender benders all across the metro, the casualties of winter’s first test are crowding into body shops.

And the pieces that didn’t make it now lay in roadways as fair warning for the next one.

“It’s Minnesota, you know what to expect,” adds Flowers.

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