Last night's commute was like something you see in a commercial for heavy duty tires or top-of-the-line windshield wipers. Snow whipped around, cars spun out everywhere, and the red glow of brake lights stretched far into the night. It was the worst commute of the year, according to the Minnesota State Highway Patrol.
"In the metro we had the rush hour congestion on top of the snow, and in the southern and northern parts of the state it was blowing, whiteout conditions, so the problems were varied," said Lt. Tiffani Nielson with the Minnesota State Highway Patrol. See also: Twin Cities Commuters Spend More Than Two Days a Year Stuck in Traffic, Study Says
Altogether the State Patrol recorded 654 crashes, 429 vehicle spin outs, and 11 jackknifed semis. The silver lining amid all of that? There were no deaths and no serious injuries.
The biggest crash happened at I-94 and Highway 280, which involved 14 vehicles, but out in the west metro Highway 212 had to be temporarily shut down when cars kept sliding off the road.
"When troopers arrived (on the scene on Highway 212) there were one or two vehicles in the ditch, and while they were on the scene more vehicles went into the ditch nearby," said Nielson. "Suddenly it just became a skating rink and cars were going into the ditch all over the place so we had to shut it down until MNDOT could salt and sand out there."
We asked Nielson, how the heck do you begin to sort out these major pileups when the snow is blowing all over the place?
"A lot of times people don't know who they hit, or who hit them, and so you just get as much information as you can into the report and let the insurance companies sort it out," she said.
Send news tips to Ben Johnson.