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Up to 15 inches snow so far in SE Minnesota

A record-breaking snowfall exceeding even the dire predictions of forecasters has knocked out power, stranded cars and closed schools throughout southeastern Minnesota.

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A driver stops to examine a downed branch pulling on a power line on 10th Street SE, Rochester, Thursday morning. Several branches were blocking roads in the area.

A record-breaking snowfall exceeding even the dire predictions of forecasters has knocked out power, stranded cars and closed schools throughout southeastern Minnesota.

Several cities in southeastern Minnesota -- Claremont, Dodge Center, Kasson, Rochester, Eyota, Reads Landing and Red Wing -- had reached double-digit inches of snowfall by mid-morning. An additional 3-5 inches was expected to fall in parts of southeastern Minnesota during the afternoon and evening.

"We're sitting here in our house trying to put the dog out and we can't even get the doors open," said Bill Ketchum, Dodge Center's 73-year-old mayor. "It's kind of something that's quite amazing."

According to a National Weather Service update in late morning, parts of Rochester had received between 9.5 and 15.5 inches of snow over 24 hours. That shatters the city's previous one-day snowfall record for May of 1.2 inches set in 1944.

The wet, heavy snow downed many power lines in the area. More than 6,000 customers of Rochester Public Utilities lost power during the morning (power was restored to a majority of them by noon). Power outages were also reported in Claremont, Kasson, Mantorville, Red Wing and Kenyon.

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In early afternoon, People’s Energy Cooperative reported that 2,500 customers were without power, with Olmsted and Wabasha counties the hardest hit.

At noon, People's Cooperative took its Genoa substation off line to repair a damaged line -- about 350 members in the north Byron area were affected. Power to that area was expected to be restored by 2 p.m.

People's crews were out in full force to restore power, officials said. Tri-County Electric in Rushford was assisting in the restoration efforts. Call People’s Energy Cooperative at 800-214-2694 to report an outage or emergency situation.

Tony Benson, spokesman for Rochester Public Utilities, said he awoke early Thursday to no power at his home and immediately went to the office. All available line workers and call takers were called in to handle calls from customers.

Benson urged citizens to report outages by call 507-280-9191, which will help workers identify problem areas.

"We have crews running the lines to find the cause before we can re-energize them," Benson said. "It's obviously weather related, with trees or branches likely laying on the lines."

Effective 6:10 a.m., the Minnesota Department of Transportation issued a press release that advised no unnecessary travel in the following counties: Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona. It cites heavy snow and reduced visibility as the cause, while warning that blowing and drifting snow may create whiteout conditions.

MnDOT also reported that U.S. 52 going southbound was briefly blocked early Thursday morning after a jackknifed semi was stuck across both lanes of traffic about a mile south of Cannon Falls. The situation was cleared by 2:50 a.m.

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However, northbound traffic on U.S. 52 was blocked a few hours later due to an overturned vehicle near County Road 7 in Goodhue County. A detour has been set up using Highway 60 west and Highway 57 north, though motorists should still expect delays.

The National Weather Service is predicting more snow overnight, with up to 2 inches of accumulation possible. Friday is expected to be warmer as precipitation changes to rain. Continued precipitation, however, may cause tributaries of the Mississippi River to reach flood stage, according the the NWS.

School was canceled in Rochester and most area districts, and even Rochester School Age Child Care was closed because of a downed power line that caused a power outage at Northrup Community Education Center.

For information about delays and cancellations, see Closings and Cancellations on PostBulletin.com.

The heavy snow caused batting cages at Recreation Lanes, 2810 N. Broadway, to collapse.

Thursday morning storm blog:

10:42 a.m. - RPU says 6,000 without power in city

10:28 a.m. - Dispatcher reports that a building in West Concord has collapsed; smell of natural gas in the area.

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9:53 a.m. - Trees down over power lines at 410 4th St SW

9:50 a.m. - Weather service: Red Wing had 13 inches of snow as of 5 a.m.

9:30 a.m. - Rochester snowfall total is over 10 inches.

9:15 a.m. - Mayo Clinic message to news media: Mayo Clinic went to its emergency staffing plan, which provides guidelines to ensure adequate staffing during severe weather or other emergencies. Mayo Clinic employees should check with their supervisor to determine their area's specific emergency staffing plan.

9:10 -Tweet from Rochester City Lines: "Hearing some great stories about crowded buses roaring with cheer for our drivers when reaching downtown this AM!"

8:59 a.m. - Snowplow in Hader stuck.

8:41 a.m. - U.S. 14 eastbound at standstill west of Rochester; several vehicles blocking.

8:41 a.m. - Rochester plows moving snow on Broadway; wall of snow in center of street is 3 1/2 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

8:35 a.m. - U.S. 60 eastbound down to one lane.

8:30 a.m. - Bus driver reports seeing a vehicle run over a pedestrian around 6th Street and 3rd Avenue (quadrant not reported) in Rochester. Report unconfirmed.

8:29 a.m. - Trooper says U.S. 14 eastbound open again; several vehicles still in ditch.

8:27 a.m. - Resident reports city bus driver says 5 or 6 buses are stuck in Rochester.

6:30 a.m. - U.S. 52 northbound is closed at Goodhue County Road 7.

5:00 a.m. - Winter storm warning in effect for the Rochester area through 7 p.m. Light snow is expected across the area tonight, possibly mixing with rain or sleet at times.

Dodge County

DODGE CENTER                   15.4 IN   0700 AM

KASSON                         14.5 IN   0837 AM

BLOOMING PRAIRIE               14.0 IN   0950 AM

PINE ISLAND 5WSW               13.0 IN   1020 AM

KASSON                         13.0 IN   0717 AM

2 SSE CLAREMONT                12.8 IN   0700 AM

2 ESE MANTORVILLE              9.0 IN    0700 AM

Fillmore County

SPRING VALLEY 3E               6.5 IN    0700 AM

SPRING VALLEY                  5.0 IN    0756 AM

PRESTON                        4.0 IN    0800 AM

LANESBORO                      3.5 IN    1101 AM

HARMONY                        2.5 IN    0730 AM

Mower County

BROWNSDALE                     10.0 IN   0856 AM

2 SW AUSTIN                    10.0 IN   0740 AM

AUSTIN 2SW                     10.0 IN   0855 AM

ADAMS 2S                       8.5 IN    1022 AM

AUSTIN                         7.0 IN    0637 AM

GRAND MEADOW                   5.0 IN    0603 AM

Olmsted County

2 NW ROCHESTER                 15.5 IN   0957 AM

2 N ORONOCO                    14.0 IN   0953 AM

ROCHESTER AP 2NE               12.1 IN   0700 AM

ORONOCO                        11.5 IN   1026 AM

EYOTA                          11.5 IN   1111 AM

4 WSW RINGE                    11.3 IN   1000 AM

3 W ROCHESTER                  10.8 IN   0700 AM

ROCHESTER 1NW                  10.0 IN   0838 AM

DOUGLAS 2N                     10.0 IN   0928 AM

3 NE SALEM CORNERS             9.8 IN    0820 AM

BYRON 4 NORTH                  9.6 IN    0700 AM

1 SE ROCHESTER                 9.5 IN    0931 AM

PINE ISLAND 2S                 9.0 IN    0929 AM

ELGIN 2SSW                     7.4 IN    0700 AM

STEWARTVILLE     8.0 IN  0700 AM

Wabasha County

OAK CENTER                     15.0 IN   1145 AM

READS LANDING 1W               12.5 IN   1040 AM

4 SSW ZUMBRO FALLS             10.5 IN   0730 AM

PLAINVIEW                      10.0 IN   1135 AM

HAMMOND 1S                     10.0 IN   1144 AM

KELLOGG 4S                     9.0 IN    1143 AM

THEILMAN 1SSW                  6.2 IN    0730 AM

LAKE CITY                      6.0 IN    0800 AM

WABASHA                        5.6 IN    0700 AM

WABASHA 5S                     4.0 IN    0912 AM

Winona County

4 SW ELBA                      10.0 IN   1100 AM

ALTURA 5W                      4.4 IN    0700 AM

WINONA                         3.5 IN    1127 AM

GOODVIEW                       2.0 IN    0933 AM

Source:National Weather Service

11:52 a.m.

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