m2581 BC-MN-SpringStorm 4thLd-Writethru 03-31 0735

Heavy snowfall, high winds spread over much of Minnesota

Eds: UPDATES snowfall totals and school bus-van collision. UPDATES photo numbers.

AP Photos MNJM101-102, MNMIT101, MNBRA101, MNMAN101-102, MNWIN101, MNCLO101, MNWIL101-2


Associated Press Writer


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With baseball and warm weather on their minds, Minnesotans were slapped Monday with a spring storm that brought a fresh coat of wet, heavy snow to much of the state.

Dozens of school districts from Red Wing to Faribault to Willmar sent students home early and Minnesota Twins fans heading to Opening Day were warned to take care during the expected messy afternoon rush hour in the Twin Cities. Officials advised against travel in central Minnesota, where the heaviest snow was falling.

The snowfall was expected to taper off overnight, but the white landscape could stick around until at least Wednesday, when warmer temperatures were predicted, said National Weather Service meteorologist Karen Trammell in Chanhassen.

On Monday afternoon, road conditions were worsening, and Trammell warned that colder evening temperatures could cause problems on the road. Up to 8 inches of snow was expected to fall in the Twin Cities and other parts of central Minnesota, she said.

"Slush could turn to ice on the road, at least in patches. And driving on the slush is not a good thing either," she said.

Winds from 15 to 25 mph were forecast for Monday night in west central and central Minnesota, and the Weather Service said it could lead to blowing snow and poor visibility.

A trained spotter reported 6 inches of snow at Lake Como in St. Paul as of 7 p.m. Six inches of "very heavy, slushy snow" had fallen in Glencoe in central Minnesota by 9 p.m., while 3.8 inches had fallen at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by 8 p.m., 4.6 inches was reported at St. Cloud in central Minnesota at 7:30 p.m., and 5 inches had fallen at Faribault and Mankato in southern Minnesota by 8 p.m., the weather service reported.

The Minnesota State Patrol said slick roads contributed to at least one fatal accident Monday in southwestern Minnesota. The driver of a Buick Park Avenue was killed after losing control and hitting a Chevy Silverado pickup head-on on Highway 75 just north of Luverne, the Patrol said.


Rice County authorities said a school bus and van collided on a snowy county road in New Prague. None of the 10 children on the bus was injured, but a child in the van suffered minor injuries, KSTP-TV reported.

A low pressure system that originated in the southern Rocky Mountains moved to the southern plains and then northeast to the upper Midwest, Trammel said. The unseasonably moist conditions in Minnesota caused the large snow accumulations.

The Minnesota Twins were hosting the Anaheim Angels at the Metrodome Monday evening — a game that likely would have been canceled if the Twins were already in their new outdoor ballpark.

Twins spokesman Kevin Smith said when the ballpark opens in 2010, the team will likely work with league officials to schedule a later home opener to decrease the likelihood of a snow-out. Monday’s storm won’t put a damper on the Twins or their fans, Smith said.

"It’s opening night. It’s going to take an awful lot to dissuade Minnesotans from showing up to see the Twins," he said.

Minnesota has seen plenty of years when March goes out like a lion, but it’s a little more difficult to accept when the state has had a long winter, said Mark Seeley, climatologist for the University of Minnesota Extension.

Seeley said the Twin Cities have had 120 consecutive days below 50 degrees, making the snow a little less welcome. But large snow totals this late have happened several times before, including on March 31, 1985 when 14.7 inches fell. And on March 31, 1896, the area recorded 20 inches of snow.

"That wasn’t simply a heavy March snow, that was an all-out blizzard," Seeley said. Still, Seeley shares the frustration — he was hoping to start riding his bicycle to work again.


"You can see the faces. Everybody’s kind of got a downturned mouth," he said. "But if you’ve lived in Minnesota for any length of time you know we’ll snap out of it pretty quickly."

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