Minnesota was recovering Monday morning from a winter weekend snowstorm that dumped as much as 15 inches of snow across the state, closing roads and causing hundreds of crashes. Blizzard conditions were so severe that at one point Sunday snowplows were pulled from the roads.
Making things even worse for morning commuters, temperatures plunged overnight, turning roads icy.
"Temperatures dropped dramatically," Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota Highway Patrol told the Los Angeles Times on Monday morning. "Heavy, wet snow froze, so most roads are snow- and ice-covered this morning."
From Saturday evening through 6 a.m. Monday, the highway patrol had handled 637 crashes and more than 1,100 spinouts and vehicles off the road, Roeske said, including a fatal crash in southeastern Minnesota. His Twitter account will update crash totals later Monday, he said.
On Sunday afternoon, blizzard conditions spurred the closure of all state highways in the west-central and southwestern parts of Minnesota.
"It wasn't even about getting through the snow," said T.J. Melcher, public affairs coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Transportation in Willmar. When winds picked up, "in the western part of state, we had to pull plows off the road ... because there was zero visibility."