‘It’s a snowstorm, nothing else to say, it’s Minnesota’: Storm before storm destroys highways, causes headaches for drivers and plow crews

There were several pileups and slide-offs in the subway.

On the Interstate 35E southbound, near Lino Lakes, a chain reaction crash left a jumble of wrecked cars, causing a major backup.

“People forget how to drive as soon as it starts to snow,” said Ryan Fields, who lives in White Bear Township. “Need to slow down and pay attention.”

Road cameras took pictures of a 12-car congestion in Maplewood on Highway 36 near White Bear Avenue.

But there were slippery conditions far outside the metro area.

Minnesota State Patrol tweeted a photo of a pickup turned in Clearwater.

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“Ice cold when I left the mall, so it was fun to get out of it,” Timmons said. “I was trying to go backwards so I didn’t hit anything.”

The rapidly changing rainfall caused wet roads earlier in the day and set the stage for difficult driving conditions, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said.

“We really try not to have wet roads at any time because it’s the glue that the snow sticks to,” explained Anne Meyer, a spokeswoman for MnDOT. “Our materials just do not work so well when the temperature is 15 degrees or below. So it just takes time for our salt, our brine, all this, to be active.”

Still, some welcome the snow as a celebration of the season.

“I could go for more,” Fields said. “I mean, I’m fine.”

Asked if he was looking forward to a white Christmas, he added, “Oh for sure.”

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But first, there are many more challenges on the roads.

MnDOT said it has 800 plows on Minnesota highways, manned by 1,800 operators.

Meyer said they work 24/7 on 12-hour shifts.

But falling temperatures mean more challenges on the roads.

This includes eruptions from blowing and drifting snow, making visibility even more dangerous, especially at night.

“First snow, first bad snow,” Timmons said, shaking his head.

“So a return to driving school?” she was asked.

“Yes, yes,” she nodded. “Although I feel like most people slow down for the most part, you have to be careful first.”