A day after the record-breaking, street-clogging weekend snowstorm, St. Paul residents had the advantage over Minneapolis: No cars were towed.
In Minneapolis, the tally Monday night was 570 and climbing.
Parking scofflaws in St. Paul lucked out during its snow emergency because the city’s contract with lots that accept violators expired Friday.
“It was just an unusual circumstance to have a blizzard in April, and we could not extend our contract,” said Lisa Hiebert, a spokeswoman with public works.
In Minneapolis, Brent Johnson was among those waiting in a long line at the city impound lot.
“They should have declared the emergency earlier in the day,” he groused. “Everyone doesn’t use mobile phone apps.”
His frustration came after two days of relentless snow that blanketed the Twin Cities, closing schools, canceling major events and leaving city streets impassable.
And winter might not be over quite yet.
Another system — though not as potent — might pile onto the 15 to 24 inches that fell across the metro for the snowiest April on record.
That could be a tough pill to swallow for even the hardiest of Minnesotans, who spent Monday digging cars out of drifts nearly 2 feet high and clearing backbreaking snow from driveways and sidewalks.
The weekend’s mid-spring blizzard toppled three snow records set in 1983: one for the snowiest April, one for the largest single snowstorm for the month, and one for the snowiest start to a calendar year.
By the end of the storm, 26.1 inches of snow had fallen so far for the month, beating the 1983 record of 21.8 inches.
And from Friday afternoon to midmorning Monday, 15.8 inches was measured at the airport, breaking the 1983 record of 13.6 inches for a single April snowstorm.
The third record was broken when the Weather Service said Sunday night that the fresh snow meant 71.2 inches had fallen since Jan. 1, making it the all-time snowiest start to a calendar year in the Twin Cities.
The roads leading to the Impound Lot at 51 Colfax Av. N. in Minneapolis were busy with tow trucks dragging wrongly parked cars. At noon, a dozen people moved slowly in the line toward the four counters inside the office. While the process was smooth, many were caught short when asked to pay the fines.
“The city is making money in tragic times,” one car owner said, griping about the $138 fee to get a vehicle released from the lot.
On Sunday, Day 1 of the snow emergency that began at 9 p.m., parking on routes marked with red and a blue street sign was prohibited. On Monday, Day 2, drivers were not supposed to park on the even side of streets that are not emergency routes. On Tuesday, cars are not supposed to be parked on the odd sides of streets.
The rules were particularly confusing for newcomers. Howard Johnson, 80, a retired scientific instrument-maker, had a tough time getting a friend’s car released from the lot Monday morning. Howard said his friend is a resident of the republic of Dagestan and doesn’t understand English. “He wouldn’t break the law,” said Howard.
Those managing the lot said they were handling what they called a “typical snow emergency in an untypical part of the year.”
Hashim Mohamed, a worker at the lot, said it was worse during the snow emergency two months ago. “There were hundreds of people lining up to get vehicles back,” he said.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was in catch-up mode after the past two days saw more than 750 flights canceled.
“It might be the most flights ever canceled due to a storm,” said spokesman Patrick Hogan. “Never have all four runways been closed as long as they were.”
Damage assessment was underway in Vadnais Heights. Ramsey County officials were at the Vadnais Sports Center on Monday looking at the mess caused when the weekend blizzard took down the center’s 77-foot-high dome.
No one was hurt when the structure came down, although an employee was onsite at the time, said Deborah Carter McCoy, Ramsey County communications manager.
Partly sunny skies and temperatures slightly above the freezing mark helped Metro Transit workers clear away mounds of snow and ice blocking bus stops. Crews were out overnight using shovels, snowplows and Bobcats to free thousands of stops, said agency spokesman Howie Padilla.
Hundreds of other stops remained snowbound, forcing passengers to wait in the street and drivers to stop in places deemed safe for passengers to get off. Padilla greeted news that more snow was on the way with a sigh.
“We’re hoping that Mother Nature does not outmuscle us,” he said, noting the pending storm could undo what gets done this week. “It’s just a big job.”
Roadwork scheduled to start this week on Hwy. 169 in Champlin was put on hold. MnDOT said the prolonged winter could affect construction projects, but it was too early to say to what extent.
“Longer-term projects often have time built into the schedule for weather-related delays,” said spokesman Kevin Gutknecht. “Shorter-term projects don’t always have that flexibility.”
Gutknecht said projects that don’t get done this year may get moved to 2019.
For the state’s three biggest districts — Anoka-Hennepin, St. Paul and Minneapolis — school will resume Tuesday.
Their decisions late Sunday to call off classes on Monday were met with almost universal acclaim on each of the school systems’ Facebook pages.
Of the three, Minneapolis Public Schools offered up the most detail for its reasoning, including the expected difficulties that bus drivers would face in trying to navigate snow-clogged side streets and the likelihood that students would be outside unattended for too long.
Looking ahead, the Weather Service models point to spring’s much-belated arrival. By next week, temperatures could touch 60 degrees or higher. That would be welcome, as the warmest high this year has been 52 degrees on April 12 and March 28.
Staff writer Anthony Lonetree contributed to this report.