Road conditions have been a big concern for metro commuters as a winter storm dropped inches of snow and freezing rain on the metro on Wednesday, but Thursday could be just as perilous.
The Minnesota State Patrol responded to 500 crashes and 700 offroad vehicles on Wednesday alone, and at least two crashes with plows have been reported.
Drivers certainly needed an extra dose of patience as commute times doubled -- even tripled -- in the morning rush. Although conditions changed by the hour throughout the day, speeds were still slow on major highways.
The snow snarl began before sunrise -- a combination of difficult road conditions and a lot of people leaving early to give themselves extra time. Even so, the morning commute seemed to crawl on forever for many, clogging up the roads well through mid-morning.
Although most motorists arrived at their destination by late morning, the snow switched to freezing rain in some spots of the metro, wetting the roads as plows cleared away slick spots -- but the snow returned after lunch. That left the evening commute almost as messy as the morning.
By Wednesday evening, however, most metro highways were wet and slightly slushy, but traffic was moving slow and steady. MnDOT tells Fox 9 News they expect Thursday's commute will be much easier.
MnDOT crews plan to work overnight, and officials expect the increasing winds will work in their favor by drying off the wet roads.
At the 18 MnDOT truck stations around the metro, crews loaded up and focused on clearing the road -- especially where ice ridges have developed.
"We like to be our main line cleared, our driving lanes cleared, get our bus lanes cleared, and then we're going to move to our ramps," Mark Fischbach, MnDOT's Clear Roadways Superintendent. "We're hoping to have them all cleared by morning rush hour."
MnDOT expects the specialized pressure blades attached to the undercarriage of the heavy-duty trucks will get a workout against the ice ridges on the roads, but salt will help them peel it away.
Temperatures will be a factor, however, because at 30 degrees, a pound of salt can melt 38 pounds of ice. At zero, that same pound of salt would only melt 3 pounds of ice.