Parts of Minn., Wis. hit by up to foot of snow

Published 4:42 pm Saturday, November 24, 2012

CORNUCOPIA, Wis. — Deep snow, strong wind and plummeting temperatures complicated travel on Black Friday in eastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, and the treacherous conditions could endure through the weekend.

Bayfield and Douglas counties in Wisconsin were each hit with as much as 12 inches of snow since late Thursday night, while about 10 inches fell on the town of Finland in Minnesota’s Lake County, the National Weather Service said.

The snow coupled with strong winds led to challenging driving conditions in some spots. Roads in the northern half of Wisconsin were snow covered, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said several long stretches were slippery. No serious injuries had been reported as of Friday afternoon.

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Similar driving conditions were reported in central Minnesota, where the state DOT said travel could be difficult. Conditions were good or fair everywhere else in the state.

By Friday evening, the Minnesota State Patrol reported that troopers responded to 238 crashes, including 51 rollovers. Another 271 vehicles slid off the road and needed to be towed. There were 33 injuries, though none were serious, said State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow.

There were no fatalities immediately attributed to the weather, but one person died in northwestern Minnesota after a vehicle went off the roadway and into water. Authorities are still investigating if weather was a factor, but Grabow said there were patches of ice and packed snow on the roadway at the time.

The injured include a state trooper, who was helping drivers who went off the road on U.S. Highway 10 north of Sauk Rapids on Friday morning when his squad car was hit, State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said. His injuries were minor.

Any lingering snowfall was expected to taper off by Friday afternoon as the storm system swept northeast into Canada, said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in La Crosse.

“Things should be improving tomorrow,” he said Friday. He cautioned that temperatures were forecast to plunge into the 30s and 20s in the next few days and that, combined with strong winds, this could create treacherous road conditions.

“For those who are traveling today and this weekend, they could encounter some stretches where it’d be good to take it a little slower, to keep more distance between themselves and the person in front of them,” Taylor said.

Shawn DeVinny, a meteorologist in the Weather Service’s Twin Cities office, said he didn’t see anything unusual about the recent weather patterns.

“It’s a little below normal for the temperatures, but otherwise there’s nothing here out of the ordinary,” he said.