Weather sends cars into ditchesPublished 2:39pm Thursday, April 18, 2013
ALDEN — Motorists found themselves in ditches Thursday afternoon as roads conditions deteriorated into a sloppy mess, especially to the west of Albert Lea.
The Tribune drove between Albert Lea and Alden on Interstate 90 and discovered what appeared to be a rolled Ford Escape on the north-side ditch of the westbound lanes, a Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office patrol car that slid into the north ditch of the westbound lanes, a white Lincoln Continental that had spun into the median near a turnaround and a silver Ford Taurus that had spun into the north ditch of the westbound lanes just after the twin bridges.
Calls for most of them began to reach dispatchers around 2 p.m. Other calls were for automobiles in ditches on Interstate 35.
Despite 70 mph speed limits, motorists on the I-90 stretch were keeping their feet off the gas pedals, traveling about 30 to 40 mph.
The roadway was a mix of slush and ice. The 10 mph wind — with 20 mph gusts — would hit curves and make conditions worse.
The scanner traffic indicated many other spinouts and slides into ditches along area freeways. An ambulance responded to the rolled Ford. No crash report was available.
Freeborn County was not in a winter weather advisory Friday.
However, Faribault County to the west and Waseca and Dodge counties to the north were. Much of Minnesota from Worthington to Grand Marais was in a winter storm warning.
Freeborn County was in a hazardous weather outlook. Albert Leans awoke this morning to a blanket of snow less than an inch thick covering the ground, plus slippery road conditions.
Around the state
The wintry blast buried northeastern Minnesota under more than a foot and a-half of new snow, disrupted travel and closed schools.
The National Weather Service says 22 inches of snow has fallen in the Lake County community of Two Harbors, with 20 inches at Lake Nichols in St. Louis County.
Duluth, Proctor and Cloquet are among the school districts canceling classes Friday.
Forecasters say the winter storm will move on Friday, with light snow lingering across central Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
The Minnesota State Patrol said 16-year-old Jonathon Pohlen of Houlton, Wis., was killed Thursday afternoon when he lost control on snowy Interstate 94 in eastern Minnesota, crossed over the median and collided with a truck’s trailer.
Snowfall totals in western Minnesota varied, with 5 inches in Fairmont, 6 inches in Pipestone, 3 inches in Windom and 7 inches in Ivanhoe. Mankato had 6 inches.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.