Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The winter storm that hit the region Monday packed a punch.

Travel conditions across the southern third of the state rapidly deteriorated as the roads were hit by freezing rain and drizzle followed by heavy wet snow. It appears the heaviest snow fell in a band stretching from the St. James area in southwestern Minnesota through the Owatonna and Faribault areas to Cannon Falls. All of those cities saw over a foot of new snow, while it appears Owatonna had the highest snowfall total at 17 inches. There were quite a few communities that reported 10-inch snowfalls, including Pine Island and Oronoco. The most recent reports from the Rochester area put the local snowfall tally at between 4 and 7-inches, although there were unconfirmed reports of over 10-inches of new snow in parts of northwest Rochester.

All of the roadways in southeastern Minnesota became completely snow and ice covered by the afternoon, while conditions degraded to the point the State Patrol recommended no travel on many highways and roads west of I-35. The patrol even closed a section of I-35 in Owatonna after whiteout conditions clogged the freeway with crashes and vehicle spinouts. A preliminary report from the State Patrol shows troopers responded to almost 185 crashes and nearly 300 vehicle spinouts between midnight at 4:30 p.m. 13 of the crashes resulted in injuries, including one serious injury crash in the southern Twin Cities.

Governor Mark Dayton issued an executive order on Monday authorizing the Minnesota National Guard to assist stranded motorists. In Steele County, the Owatonna Armory is being used as a shelter for travelers waiting for conditions to improve.

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