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Associated Press , Published November 23 2012

Minn. trooper struck while helping drivers

SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. — A Minnesota State Patrol trooper suffered minor injuries when his vehicle was hit as he was helping drivers in central Minnesota.

State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske says the trooper was helping with vehicles that went off the road on U.S. Highway 10, north of Sauk Rapids, on Friday morning when his squad car was hit.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported 186 crashes, including 45 rollovers, as of Friday morning as deep snow, strong wind and plummeting temperatures complicated travel on Black Friday in eastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.

The Patrol reported another 244 vehicles slid off the road and needed to be towed. There were 27 minor injuries and no fatalities reported.

The treacherous conditions could endure through the weekend.

Bayfield and Douglas counties in Wisconsin were each hit with as much as 12 inches of snow since late Thursday night, while about 10 inches fell on the town of Finland in Minnesota's Lake County, the National Weather Service said.

The snow coupled with strong winds led to challenging driving conditions in some spots. Roads in the northern half of Wisconsin were snow covered, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said several long stretches were slippery. No serious injuries had been reported as of Friday afternoon.

Similar driving conditions were reported in central Minnesota, where the state DOT said travel could be difficult. Conditions were good or fair everywhere else in the state.

Any lingering snowfall was expected to taper off by Friday afternoon as the storm system swept northeast into Canada, said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in La Crosse.

“Things should be improving tomorrow,” he said Friday. He cautioned that temperatures were forecast to plunge into the 30s and 20s in the next few days and that, combined with strong winds, this could create treacherous road conditions.

“For those who are traveling today and this weekend, they could encounter some stretches where it'd be good to take it a little slower, to keep more distance between themselves and the person in front of them,” Taylor said.

Shawn DeVinny, a meteorologist in the Weather Service's Twin Cities office, said he didn't see anything unusual about the recent weather patterns.

“It's a little below normal for the temperatures, but otherwise there's nothing here out of the ordinary,” he said.

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