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Latest snow provides share of issues for removal crews

A city snow plow removes slush Wednesday along Fifth Street Southwest in Willmar. The heavy snow made removal difficult for crews, a city official said. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- The wet, heavy snow that fell Tuesday night and Wednesday morning was the most difficult to push during this winter season, said Willmar Public Works Superintendent Ron Gilbertson.

"There was so much moisture in it and so much ice underneath there that we were having a hard time,'' Gilbertson said Wednesday afternoon. "It probably took us an extra two hours to plow our routes because of the snow and the ice underneath it. We were pushin' a lot of snow today.''

The ice underneath was caused by the heavy rain that fell Tuesday night before the rain turned to snow.

Gilbertson said he had to send crews out three times Tuesday night to the southeast part of town to get three older ash trees that had blown over in the high wind.

"That wind was crazy, and thunder and the lightning,'' Gilbertson said. Two trees blew down on Third Street and one on Second Street.

Snow removal began at 5 a.m. and was finished by about 3 p.m. One frustration caused by the wet snow was formation of "speed bumps'' in the intersection. The bumps were caused by the row of snow left by the plow when it crosses the intersection.

Usually the snow will disperse when hit by a bumper or tire, said Gilbertson, but the snow packed in this time.

"You don't see that every often,'' he said. However, many streets got better as the day went on, he said.

"I was actually kind of surprised to see how well the streets cleaned off today without getting to 32 degrees,'' he observed. "This time of year the sun has power, even if it's not completely out.''

During the first hour of plowing, the drivers hit the main routes of First Street, Willmar Avenue, Trott Avenue Becker Avenue, Kandiyohi Avenue and other through-streets. Then drivers concentrate on the secondary streets.

Gilbertson had two minor breakdowns, but nothing major, and trucks returned to the street. The department was down by 3 employees and the mechanic helped with plowing.

The department declared a snow emergency for early today in the downtown central business district.

"Hopefully it's the last one,'' Gilbertson said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150