Snow, wind cause havoc Friday on Interstate-35

January 21, 2019

Interstate Highway 35 in Steele and Freeborn counties was not a good place to be during Friday’s snow storm.

The State Patrol reported numerous accidents on I-35 between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, as wind and snow made travel hazardous, especially in open areas. The biggest mess occurred at about 2 p.m. Friday, when four semi trucks skidded and jack-knifed on I-35 in Freeborn County, forcing closure of a stretch of the highway.

According to the National Weather Service, Friday’s storm dropped 5.7 inches of snow in Owatonna, eight inches in southern Steele County and 8.5 inches in Albert Lea, all in the I-35 corridor.

Among the accidents keeping the State Patrol busy, at 1:30 p.m. Friday, a snow plow attempting to clear I-35 was rear-ended by a jeep. In another crash Friday, a Toyota Corolla skidded off the road and struck a tree. At 6 a.m. Saturday, the State Patrol reported another crash on I-35 in Rice County.

No serious injuries were reported from the numerous accidents.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported early Saturday morning that roads generally eastward from Rochester to the Mississippi River were completely snow covered. West of Rochester, roads were reported to be partially snow covered.

A dispatcher with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department said there were no new reports of cars in the ditches Saturday morning.

Snow totals from Friday’s storm, according to the National Weather Service office in the Twin Cities, included 4.8 inches at Rochester International Airport, five inches on the north side of Rochester, 10 inches in Grand Meadow and 10 inches in Austin.

After the snow, arctic cold settled over the region, with a forecast high of 11 Saturday for Rochester, and temperatures falling to three below zero Saturday night. The high on Sunday will also reach only 11. More snow is in the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday.