The surprise springtime snowstorm that continues to pound Minnesota prompted Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday to authorize the mobilization of the National Guard to provide assistance to areas struggling with power outages and flooding.
Several counties sought aid as heavy snowfall downed power poles and electrical lines and stranded motorists in Freeborn, Marshall, Mower and Steele Counties. Guard members were put on standby to rescue residents of Oslo, located 340 miles northwest of Minneapolis, as the nearby Red River continued to rise.
“The Minnesota National Guard will assist with search and rescue operations and has already opened armories in Owatonna and Albert Lea to be used as shelters,” Walz said in a signed state of emergency declaration for 64 counties and three tribal nations.
It was not immediately clear how many Guard members were called up. The snow, sleet and ice created treacherous travel conditions that resulted in hundreds of crashes and several highway closures, the Star-Tribune reported. Multiple school districts canceled classes in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Thursday and hundreds of flights out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were delayed.
Close to 10 inches of snow has fallen on several parts of the state. A blizzard warning remained in effect for most of western Minnesota until 10 a.m. Friday. One confirmed death was reported since the storm began Wednesday.