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We got dumped on

By Staff | Mar 3, 2019

The blizzard on Sunday, Feb. 24, caused hazardous driving conditions in Faribault County and across much of the midwest. It was so bad that a snow plow truck, above, had to pull a snow plow grader out of a snowbank. It took several days to get all the roads, highways, and interstate freeways cleared off of snow and opened up.

Weather continues to be the dominate story both locally in Faribault County and across the state of Minnesota. This last weekend’s blizzard added to the ongoing saga of the winter of 2019.

The snow started falling Saturday evening, Feb. 23, and a blizzard warning went into effect early that evening.

Travel became dangerous with winds in excess of 50 mph, causing blowing and drifting snow and very low visibility.

State highways were closed across southern Minnesota as MnDOT pulled their plows off the road.

Interstate 90 was closed from Jackson to the Wisconsin border. The freeway in the Blue Earth area opened up between 12:30 and 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, according to Scott Adams, chief deputy for the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office.

More than 600 stranded motorists were rescued across southern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Over 70 vehicles were reported stalled in Faribault County.

Adams reported one rescue south of Frost on Saturday night took a total of four hours to complete. Adams was assisted by deputy Jacob Peterson in the retrieval of the stranded person.

“Brian Ehlert, of Bricelyn, with his track tractor, also helped us out,” Adams said.

A medical emergency in Kiester on Sunday afternoon got two county V-plows back on the road.

One V-plow started from Bricelyn and traveled County Road 2 to Kiester, according to Mark Daly, the county public works director. Another V-plow came from Blue Earth on County Road 16 and drove to the Bricelyn corner, which is where the parties met and were guided to the United Hospital District.

Finally, early Monday morning, the cleanup began.

“It took all of Monday and Tuesday to get the county roads completely open,” Daly said.

The county had to put V-plows on a couple of their trucks because their trucks with one-way plows were unable to make it though some of the drifts, Daly commented.

“The drifts were too high and too hard for a one-way plow,” Daly explained. “So we made a single lane path with the V-plow and then came back with the one-way plows to widen the road.

Compounding the problem is the fact the snow is so high in some places there is no place for the plows to push the snow to get rid of it.

“We have rented a CAT D-6 dozer to push the snow back into the fields and widen out the roads,” Daly noted.

Some township roads remained closed as of Tuesday morning. Like the county, townships were bringing in other equipment to clear some of the blocked roads where the township plows were unable to clear them.

Then there is the never-ending removal of snow from the city of Blue Earth.

“We have had 14 plow events since Nov. 1 of last year,” Jamie Holland, the public works director for the city of Blue Earth, said.

City workers have also used 382 tons of salt/sand and logged 404.5 hours of overtime so far, Holland added.

As of Wednesday noon, Holland said the streets were done and the boulevards were being cleaned. Snow piles were also going to be dealt with around the intersections to improve the visibility for vehicles as they traveled around the city.

Getting rid of the snow is the another problem. The city is making use of a CAT dozer to push the piles of snow back and increase the space for more snow.

Holland said the next concern is widening the streets to ensure when melting does occur, the storm sewers are accessible for the water to flow to them.

So when will we get relief from the snow and cold?

Last Sunday, March 3, the high temperature was supposed to be one below zero and the low is predicted to be 15 below according to the Weather Underground website. By contrast, on March 3 of 2018, the thermometer hit 41 degrees above zero. The normal average high temperature for early March is in the low 30s.

Forecast highs for this week do not reach the 20 degree mark. Of course, weather predictions can be wrong, but for now it looks as though the snow will be around for awhile.