Ice causes havoc on roads in north-central MinnesotaA day of mostly rain in the Twin Ports on Saturday was forecast to transition to snow overnight. But to the west, icy conditions created lots of travel headaches and prompted authorities to issue no-travel advisories for some highways.
By: News Tribune staff, Bemidji Pioneer
A day of mostly rain in the Twin Ports on Saturday was forecast to transition to snow overnight. But to the west, icy conditions created lots of travel headaches and prompted authorities to issue no-travel advisories for some highways.
In the Bemidji area, hundreds of motorists found themselves in roadside ditches Saturday morning after freezing rain covered highways, including more than 100 vehicles in the ditch along U.S. Highway 2 and and the U.S. Highway 71 bypass around Bemidji.
The icy conditions prompted Beltrami County officials to warn residents to stay home.
“Roadways are covered with ice and travel is nearly impossible,” read a news release issued late Saturday morning. “If you do not need to travel today, please consider postponing your travel plans until roadways can be treated.”
The news release said “several semi-trucks rolled into the ditches. There are many semi-trucks stranded across the region that are not able to safely maneuver on the roadway.”
Most vehicles quickly were removed from ditches, but motorists were traveling at drastically reduced speeds throughout the day. The Minnesota State Patrol reported that a trooper was able to travel only 10 mph in a 55 mph zone because of ice.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation also issued no-travel advisories for the region, including parts of Itasca County. Fair-to-difficult driving conditions were reported elsewhere in the Northland, where alternating rain, freezing rain and snow left icy patches on roadways.
Rain was forecast to switch over to snow in Northeastern Minnesota overnight, with several inches of accumulation possible — possibly as much as a half-foot for parts of Itasca and Koochiching counties. The National Weather Service forecast lesser amounts for the Twin Ports and Northwestern Wisconsin.
Winter weather advisories remain in effect until midnight for Itasca and Koochiching counties, and until 6 a.m. Sunday for the Twin Ports, Cloquet, Iron Range and North Shore.
Temperatures are forecast to be in the 20s Sunday, meaning any puddles and wet surfaces from Saturday’s rain may turn to ice overnight.