Local plow crews keep up with snowfall
WILLMAR -- A heavy load of snow and mild Christmas Day temperatures combined to create slushy and slippery roads in much of west central Minnesota.
Diane Beck, from the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 8 headquarters in Willmar, said most of the state experienced "difficult" driving conditions over the holiday.
A vigilant crew of state, county and city snow plow operators gave up their holiday time with family to keep primary roads passable. As a result, there were limited reports of motor vehicle accidents.
There were, however, two fatalities in the state, including one near Morton.
But considering the 10-12 inches of snow the National Weather Service said fell over a large section of west central Minnesota by Friday night, crews handled the snow removal without a lot of stress.
"The warm weather has helped quite a bit," said Dave Fritz, director of maintenance for Kandiyohi County . "And there wasn't much traffic out and about. That was a good thing."
The week-long warnings about the storm caused many families to change their holiday plans.
A number of area churches cancelled their late-night Christmas Eve and early morning Christmas Day services out of concern for the weather.
"The public listened, and that was good," said Fritz. "It helps us out when you don't have to go around cars that might be on the road or stuck in the ditch."
Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Deputy Ron Konieska said his office fielded very few reports of vehicles going off the road. "People have been pretty good," he said
Beck said a MnDOT supervisor told her he's thankful the public heeded the weather forecast and stayed off roads. "It made their jobs easier," she said.
Maintenance crews in Willmar were able to keep the primary and secondary streets cleared, said Ron Gilbertson, public works supervisor for the city of Willmar. But he said there is a "lot of snow" on the side streets.
The snow came in "waves" with lulls in between that helped crews get one layer of snow off before the next wave hit, said Gilbertson.
City crews were out at 5 a.m. on Christmas Day and were expected to repeat their routes at 5 a.m. today to clear streets for shoppers seeking after-Christmas buys.
Gilbertson said it'll take about two hours to get the primary and secondary streets done. "By then pretty much everyone in Willmar is within three blocks of an open road."
In Willmar, a snow emergency will go into effect midnight on Sunday in the central business district. Vehicles need to be moved from the streets before that time, said Gilbertson.