Interstate 94 in Minnesota closed due to fiery crash as snow squall limits visibility

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A fiery crash shut both directions of a major interstate in Minnesota on Thursday as a snow squall was blasting across the state.

The Minnesota State Patrol said the accident happened just before 9 a.m. local time and shut lanes in both directions on Interstate 94 in Monticello, located about 40 miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis.

"The State Patrol is investigating a large crash; however, injuries have not yet been determined," State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jesse Grabow said in a news release. 

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Grabow tweeted there were "several crashes" in the area, impacting traffic in both directions.

A fiery crash shut Interstate 94 in both directions on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 in Monticello, Minn. as a snow squall was reported in the area.
(MnDOT)

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) said the initial crash was reported between Wright County Road 19 and County Road 18 near Monticello.

Traffic cameras from the scene showed several trucks involved, including one on fire emitting large amounts of smoke. 

A fiery crash shut Interstate 94 in both directions on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 in Monticello, Minn. as a snow squall was reported in the area.
(MnDOT)

Grabow tweeted that the driver of the truck on fire was "OK." 

"Use alternate routes and drive w/caution on snow-covered roads & buckle up," he said.

At the time of the crash, a heavy band of snow went through the area, limiting visibility. The State Patrol told FOX9  it was responding to multiple crashes in the area as the snow moved through.

Another video from a traffic camera showed a semi-truck jackknifing near Albertville as heavy snow fell.

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The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office for the Twin Cities said there was a snow squall warning in effect in the region at the time.

"A narrow band of heavy snow will impact the Twin Cities metro this morning. Conditions will rapidly deteriorate with visibility dropping to 1/4 mile or less in a matter of minutes," the NWS tweeted. "Please exercise caution when traveling."

According to the NWS, snow squalls are often associated with strong cold fronts and are a "wintertime weather hazard."

"They move in and out quickly, and typically last less than an hour," the NWS states. "The sudden white-out conditions combined with falling temperatures produce icy roads in just a few minutes."

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When snow squalls occur, they bring "localized extreme impacts" to those who may be traveling and can happen when there is no large-scale winter storm impacting a region of the country.

While they may only produce a small amount of accumulation over a 30- to 60-minute period, the intense burst of whiteout conditions can create havoc for motorists.

"Unfortunately, there is a long history of deadly traffic accidents associated with snow squalls," according to the NWS.

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