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Winter storm warning now includes Twin Cities

Plus: Best Buy gets a familiar competitor; two Minnesota Lottery officials disciplined; auto fatalities spike in January; and more.

MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig

Oh, good. Paul Douglas is now saying, “New 12z model data nudges the storm track farther north and west, putting the Twin Cities back into the zone of plowable snow amounts. The heaviest snows are still likely over southern and southeastern suburbs, where some 5-10″ amounts are possible by Tuesday night. Expect a sharp snowfall gradient to set up close to St. Cloud where only a couple inches is expected.  But there’s little doubt the PM rush on Tuesday will be a snowy, wind-whipped, white-knuckle slog.” That could seriously affect my happy hour plans.

At MPR, Bill Enderson says, “While the morning commute will have no weather problems, the evening commute is likely to be extremely slow. Forecast snowfall totals for the metro area range from 2 to 4 inches in the northernmost suburbs to 6 to 9 inches on the south side. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are likely to pick up around 5 to 8 inches.”

KEYC-TV in Mankato says, “With a powerful winter storm bearing down on southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, Minnesota’s Department of Transportation is expecting to close roads as conditions become unmanageable. With whiteout conditions and significant drifting expected, drivers are encouraged to monitor road conditions and avoid travel if possible. Snow plows may be halted from clearing roads once MnDOT indicates travel is not advised. … Jed Falgren, the Area Maintenance Engineer for MnDOT District 7, says, ‘There is a reasonable chance that an event like we’re going to see tomorrow that rescue will not be a possibility at that time. If they’ve got travel plans for tomorrow, really seriously reconsider those. It’s going to be a very challenging day for travel in south–central Minnesota.’” And that means you, with the biggest, baddest four-wheel drive unit in town.

Like it was beaten out of them. In the Strib, Neal St. Anthony says, “Three more life insurance companies that owed unpaid claims to policy beneficiaries have settled with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. That brings to nine the number of companies out of 16 examined that have agreed to pay $143 million to beneficiaries. An additional $31 million owed to people who cannot be located will go into the state unclaimed property fund.” There are going to be some upset shareholders.

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And what is going on in St. Cloud? KSTP-TV and the AP report, “Police say first responders found two bodies at the Mississippi River in St. Cloud, but that investigators don’t believe the cases are related. St. Cloud Police Sgt. Jeffrey Janssen says police got a call Sunday afternoon about a person possibly on the ice. The body was found by a walker at 12:20 p.m. Sunday on the ice near the Granite City Crossing Bridge. … Janssen says officers on the scene found a second body on the rocks. He says it was the body of an unidentified man and appeared to have been there for a substantial amount of time.” So did they stop looking after the second one?

Who is coming back? Peter Cox of MPR says, “Best Buy has a new, but familiar competitor. Long-defunct Circuit City has new owners who plan to open small retail stores and jump into online shopping, with a focus on attracting millennial consumers. But analyst Anthony Chukumba with BB&T Market Capital doesn’t expect Circuit City to be any real challenge to Best Buy. Rather, he says they’re jumping into the market at a terrible time.” What’s next? Gateway retail stores?

Live by the drill, die by the drill. Says MPR’s Dan Gunderson, “After years of growing revenue, North Dakota state agencies need to trim their budgets in response to a revenue shortfall. Weakness in the oil and agriculture sectors dropped state revenue more than $1 billion below expectations, prompting Gov. Jack Dalrymple to tell state agencies they need to cut their budgets by $245 million.”

Also from MPR, Brian Bakst says, “A senior official at the Minnesota Lottery is serving a five-day suspension and another was reprimanded after a probe into expense practices that already led to the resignation of the agency’s director. Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Dayton announced Monday that a former lottery boss would lead the entity temporarily until a permanent replacement could be found.”

A niche issue to be sure. In a Strib commentary, MAC board member and Thomson Reuters CIO Rick King says, “Currently, Delta Air Lines offers the only nonstop service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Tokyo’s Narita Airport. … While enough capacity exists at Haneda [Airport in Tokyo] to serve all U.S. carrier needs and provide competition, Japan has insisted on a controlled, limited opening designed to benefit only Japan’s network carriers and their partners. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has already agreed to this framework that, if adopted, would undermine Delta’s service between U.S. cities and Tokyo, including MSP’s direct flight, and reduce competition on travel to Asia.”

On the Governor’s condition, Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV says, “Political analyst Larry Jacobs said despite assurances, this latest health scare raises concerns. ‘It’s not just one event, it’s a series of events,’ Jacobs said. ‘I think the level of anxiety in the state is higher than it would be normally.’ … Minnesota’s top legislative leaders say they are confident in the governor’s ability to do his job and to recover. ‘The previous issues were relative to back problems and hip problems and those are moving parts. I have shoulder problems myself,’ Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said.” OK. Good to hear that, I guess.

Off to a crashing start. Marino Eccher for the PiPress: “Deaths on Minnesota roads in January were up nearly threefold from the same month a year earlier, the Minnesota Department of Public safety said. In the first month of 2016, 25 people died in incidents statewide, up from nine in 2015. Over the past five years, an average of 19 people have died in traffic incidents in January.”