29 inches of snow and counting on North Shore as winter storm continues

A Metro Transit bus in south Minneapolis bound for downtown waits for assistance due to snow fall on Thursday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News


Updated: 1:45 p.m.

Heavy snow continued to fall across much of Minnesota on Thursday, with ongoing blizzard conditions near Lake Superior and snow totals of more than 2 feet in some communities.

The National Weather Service received a report of 29 inches of snow — with snow still falling — at Finland in Lake County as of just after 8 a.m.

Spotters near Beaver Bay and Wales in Lake County reported 28 inches of snow, with 27 inches in Duluth’s Gary-New Duluth neighborhood, and 26.9 inches northwest of Two Harbors.

Other reports included 23.8 inches at Rice Lake north of Duluth, 23.5 inches at Brimson, 20 inches near Proctor, 19 inches at McKinley and Chisholm and 18 inches at Lutsen.

The Weather Service reported an official snow total of 21.4 inches at the Duluth airport as of 9 a.m., tying the storm for the 10th greatest two-day snowfall on record in Duluth — with more snow falling.

Snow totals in the Twin Cities and Rochester areas generally were in the 3- to 6-inch range, including 5.5 inches at Northfield, 4.5 inches at Oronoco, 4 inches in Inver Grove Heights, 3.7 inches at St. Paul Park, 3 inches at Mankato and Prior Lake, 2.9 inches at Falcon Heights and Woodbury, and 2.8 inches at Bloomington, Hugo and Shakopee.

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As of early Thursday afternoon, utility companies were reporting more than 50,000 homes and businesses without power in Minnesota amid the ongoing winter storm — most of those outages in central and northeast parts of the state.

Among the utilities reporting widespread outages, Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative reported more than 5,000 customers without power as of late morning in its central Minnesota service area.

The company said the wet, heavy snow is causing trees to bend over or break onto power lines. It’s urging people to always assume downed lines are energized — and to avoid going near them.

Minnesota Power reported its crews were in the field Thursday working to repair outages — but said the prolonged heavy snow may delay repairs of some of the lines downed by the storm earlier in the week.

“Given the sheer amount of snow that fell overnight, the number of trees and wires that are down, we are looking at a multi-day outage event,” said Minnesota Power spokesperson Amy Rutledge. “We’re asking our customers to make plans now, if they are currently without power, that they should stay with family or friends, or make other arrangements if they can.”

The wet, heavy snow that toppled trees on top of power lines also caused the main greenhouse to collapse at the Spring At Last Greenhouse on Arrowhead Road in Duluth.

Co-owner Jennifer Couillard said that usually she loves winter, and snow, despite all the work it causes. She said they plan to rebuild.

“My husband and I love this business. So we’re — we’re hanging in there,” she said.

The State Patrol reported more than 380 crashes and spinouts, along with four jackknifed semis, along state and federal highways in Minnesota between 9 p.m. Wednesday and 11:30 a.m. Thursday. One of those crashes, along Highway 62 near the Twin Cities airport, was fatal.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported snow-covered roads — and numerous crashes and spinouts — across nearly the entire state as of Thursday afternoon.

Authorities in Cook County issued a no-travel advisory on Thursday morning, saying visibility was near zero in some places.

Matt Nesheim, the county’s highway maintenance superintendent, said it wasn’t so much traction issues or getting stuck, but rather the risk of crashes that prompted the advisory.

“If we have plow trucks out, the danger of someone hitting a plow truck, especially if the visibility is poor — it’s just not worth it,” he said.

Find updated Minnesota road conditions at 511mn.org.

Find updated North Dakota road conditions at travel.dot.nd.gov.

Find updated South Dakota road conditions at sd511.org.

Find updated Wisconsin road conditions at 511wi.gov.

Find updated Iowa road conditions at 511ia.org.

The difficult driving conditions prompted many Minnesota school districts to delay or cancel classes — or move to distance learning — on Thursday.

Two trees with lights covered in snow
Snow covers trees decorated with holiday lights in the early morning hours in Woodbury.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

Minneapolis, St. Paul and Brooklyn Center were among the cities that issued snow emergencies, setting special parking rules into effect.

Find information about snow emergency rules in Minneapolis here.

Find information about snow emergency rules in St. Paul here.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories remained in effect for most of the state as of Thursday afternoon.

The Weather Services said the Twin Cities may see an additional inch or two of snow by Thursday night, with greater totals in western and northern Minnesota.