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I-94 reopened as first winter snow clogs St. Cloud area

Nov 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - Sections of Interstate 94 near Highway 15 closed Saturday afternoon and Minnesota State Patrol officers cleared several minor accident sites as the first major snowfall of the winter season swept over St. Cloud and central Minnesota Saturday.

Westbound traffic on I-94 was shut down after 1 p.m. Saturday near Highway 15 and eastbound traffic was significantly slowed following a series of collisions triggered by the season's first snow, Minnesota State Patrol dispatcher Kael Payne said.

The roadway was reopened around 3:30 p.m.

Payne said crews worked quickly to clear the accident scenes and treat the roadway before it was reopened. Those accidents involved about two dozen vehicles and big-rigs between Albany and Freeport, Payne said.

There were no initial reports of major injuries resulting from those accidents, many resulting from vehicles sliding into the back of other vehicles due to the slippery conditions, Payne said.

Statewide, Patrol officers reported nearly 200 crashes between noon at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, including 25 injury accidents, MSP spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said. About 78 of those accidents involved drivers sliding off roadways and two Minnesota State Patrol squad cars sustained damage in crashes. None of the accidents involved serious or major injuries across the state, Roeske said.

In St. Cloud, authorities reported a busy, but not unprecedented day for the season's first major snowfall. By early afternoon, as many as 30 minor accidents were reported on city streets since the snow started falling during mid-morning, according to St. Cloud police.

The National Weather Service upgraded their Winter Weather Advisory Saturday, estimating 6 to 7 inches of snow likely across the St. Cloud area before conditions were expected to taper over around 6 p.m. Northerly wind between 20 and 30 mph also caused blowing and drifting snow conditions, particularly across open areas.

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