Hundreds of cars towed in back-to-back snow emergencies

At the ready: Twin Cities cars on Thursday night.
At the ready: Twin Cities cars on Thursday night.
Daniel Dix via @DDwx

Between Monday and Wednesday, Minneapolis crews plowed the equivalent of a one-lane road between Minneapolis and Anchorage, Alaska. Last night, they started doing it all over again.

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Back-to-back snow emergencies hit the Twin Cities this week. First there were the 5 inches of snow on Monday, followed by two intervening days of blissful, 40-degree temperatures and plenty of puddles.

On Thursday afternoon, temperatures started dropping. Then, the biggest snow storm of the season to date swept in, dropping 10 inches of fresh powder on Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, and prompting Gov. Mark Dayton to declare a state of emergency on Friday.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul called snow emergencies before the worst of the storm hit on Thursday. Minneapolis's marks the seventh snow emergency so far this season. Last year at this time, the city had trudged through just two. The year before, 2011 to 2012, there were zero, though the 2010 to 2011 winter brought a record eight.

St. Paul, meanwhile, has declared eight snow emergencies so far this season. On day one of this latest one, crews had to re-plow so many streets overnight from Thursday into Friday that the city pushed its day two snow emergency plowing schedule up by two hours.

An alert email from the city summed up the grim situation. "Boulevards are already packed high with snow and plows cannot throw new snow up on top of the pile," the message read. "For this reason, driveways, alleyways, out walks and street corners will become full of snow. There is no way to prevent this."

The update ended: "The extremely wet snow coupled with the drastic drop in temperatures is likely to leave roads in terrible shape for at least a few days."

Of course, snow emergencies also mean parking restrictions. In Minneapolis, 289 cars got towed overnight Monday into Tuesday, followed by 464 cars on Tuesday, and 420 cars on Wednesday.

The cycle started anew when the second snow emergency kicked in yesterday at 9 p.m., and overnight, 203 cars left on snow emergency routes got picked up by tow trucks.

To avoid the same fate, remember that today is day two of the snow emergency. In Minneapolis, that means don't park on the even side of a non-snow emergency route between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., or until it's fully plowed, and don't park on either side of a parkway.

Tomorrow, same rules, different sides: Plows will be working on the odd sides of the street. While you're moving your car and shoveling your walk, cross your fingers for a break from the snow.

Still need a good way to find out about snow emergencies? Minneapolis offers several: There's the 612-348-SNOW hotline, the website, the phone alert system, the text and email alert system, the Facebook page, and the snow emergency app for iPhone and Android.

In St. Paul, call 651-266-PLOW, check out the website, and sign up for email and text alerts.

Get informed now: We're not even in March yet.

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