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654 Crashes Statewide Since Friday Due To Snow

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – The snow has stopped, but there is still plenty of work to be done after the storm.

The plows were out working hard Monday morning as commuters headed to work, but it wasn’t enough to keep the road clean. Even the plows had some problems, one in particular spun out in the snow at Highway 52 and Interstate 494 in Inver Grove Heights.

That was just one of many spinouts that took place throughout the morning commute. There were brake lights everywhere on most of Minnesota’s major roads when the WCCO Mobile Weather Watcher took to metro roads.

There was a huge mess on I-694 and 35W in the metro as semi-trucks got stuck trying to get on the highway, creating a large traffic jam and grinding traveling to a halt. The Minnesota State Patrol says since Friday night, they’ve responded to 654 crashes and almost 1,300 reports of vehicles off the road or spin outs.

Sixty-seven of the 650 crashes the State Patrol reported involved an injury. One person was killed in a crash involving a semi on Highway 61 near Red Wing.

Despite the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s around the clock plowing, the whopper weekend snowstorm left a thick layer of ice and snow pack on the roadways. It made the morning commute treacherous and painfully slow all over the metro.

One commuter needed two hours to get from Lakeville to Minneapolis. Marne Berkvam thought she left early enough, 7:15 a.m. to be exact.

“Really snowy, really icy and slow-going,” she said.

For those who took Metro Transit buses or light rail, it wasn’t as bad. But everyone we talked with was still late by about 30 to 45 minutes.

Drivers took it slow: 20, 30 and 40 miles per hour on the highway. Some cars slid right off the road, and on and off ramps were especially slick as the morning went on. Things got worse in some parts of town.

“Getting back to having snow in Minnesota it always takes first snow before people realize how to drive again they did a good job,” said Sean Larson of Champlin.

Kevin Gutknecht with MnDOT said he expects road conditions to get better by this afternoon and in time for the evening commute. The plows have continued to remove snow and ice from the roads, and he said even though it won’t warm up much, as it gets a little warmer it will allow the chemicals to work a little better.

Officials are reminding motorists to give snow plows room to work and to give each other space to drive.

In addition to the roads, snow emergencies are still in effect for some cities, including Minneapolis. The city said they’ve towed 687 cars in Minneapolis since the snow emergency started — 393 Sunday night and 294 on Monday.

In St. Paul, 638 cars were impounded, according to impound manager Bret Smith.

WCCO’s Steve Murphy Interviews Kevin Gutknecht Of MnDOT

Clean-Up

When you move to Minnesota from North Carolina, snowblowing driveways isn’t something one has much experience with. But Maggie Wemberling is learning fast and handles her snowblower like a true pro — cleaning not only her sidewalk and driveway but those of her neighbors.

“But it’s fun,” she said. “We just got this toy and so it’s fun to try out and we moved from the south so it’s fun for us to have snow.”

Metro residents were waking up today to anywhere from 10 to 16 inches of snow. And getting around was anything but fun — commutes were slow and snarled. Even the plow trucks had a tough time with it.

But by noon, two sleepless nights were nearly over for Tim Salscheider.

“Last year was pretty dry, the cash flow wasn’t there if you want to call it that,” he said.

After no snow business last season, he’s hard at work — clearing parking lots and making money again.

“Absolutely, there’s a lot of equipment out there, fork lifts, skid loaders and all plows on them — it’s a lot of money up front,” he said.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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