Minnesota State Patrol issues statewide report on blizzard
WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) released a compiled incident report Wednesday of the accidents that occurred during the blizzard that hit most of the state over the weekend.
The report included incidents that occurred from Saturday to Monday due to the blizzard, divided into districts.
“The storm was such a dangerous and scary situation that I think releasing these numbers sums it all up as far as travel advisory,” said Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha of the Minnesota State Patrol. “When we (MSP) and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) issue a travel advisory, we want people to heed it.”
The region saw an accumulation of up to three inches of snow over the weekend, with wind gusts reaching up to 55 mph causing white-out conditions. Temperatures with wind-chill factors plummeted to as low as minus -40.
Conditions were so bad Sunday that Interstate 29 north of Brookings, S.D., and U.S. 71 from Windom to Minnesota 14 were closed.
The southwest Minnesota area saw 109 incidents over the storm’s three-day period, with most involving vehicles off the roadway (VOR). There were 76 VOR reports in southwest Minnesota, with Sunday being the worst day (43) vehicles.
“It’s not surprising that vehicles reported in a ditch are the most common incidents, because they are also the most preventable,” Sticha said. “We hope that Minnesotans do talk to each other about this — especially parents to their sons and daughters — about slowing down when conditions are bad. Those are the conversations that we hope releasing this information will produce.”
“We didn’t have any fatalities and only a few serious accidents in the region, and we were actually lower than the average,” Marshall Director of Public Safety Robert Yant said.
“I think most people just stayed home and were cautious if they were driving.”
Southwest Minnesota also saw 12 stall blocking incidents – vehicles in the roadway that needed to be moved – as well as six property damage accidents, three rollover crashes, two injury crashes, one vehicle-animal crash, one hit-and-run, one DUI investigation and one vehicle rollover crash resulting in an injury.
“I think it is important that people do know about these numbers because most people don’t realize what’s really going on out on the roads when the conditions are dangerous out,” Sticha said. “While these numbers can be a little alarming, it is important to note that most are definitely heeding these warnings and making the choice to either stay off the roadways during blizzard conditions or drive safely if they have to.”