WILLMAR - Snowplows will be back on the roads today, cleaning up from Wednesday's storm that buried much of west central Minnesota with anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of snow in some areas.
Schools throughout the region closed Wednesday, adding another snow day to a growing list this winter.
"It's been a tough day,'' said Sandra Schlagel, public affairs director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 8, when reached late in the day Wednesday. Snowplow operators were able to get ahead of the snow Wednesday afternoon, she said, but heavy snow had made their jobs extremely difficult through the morning.
Plows normally can work at speeds of 40 to 45 miles per hour, but the heavy rate of snowfall Wednesday slowed them by more than half, to 15 and 20 miles an hour, she said. The plows had begun clearing area highways at 3 a.m. Wednesday and operations continued into the evening hours. The district's full force was out, and an extra plow was brought in as well, she said.
Snowfall amounts in the region varied. Granite Falls reported 10 inches by late afternoon. Lake Lillian recorded 7.8 inches and Olivia 7 inches, and Litchfield saw 7.5 inches, according to reports shared by the National Weather Service.
The new snowfall has made this the snowiest February in state records, with more on the way. The National Weather Service reported that the snowfall total for the month in the Twin Cities is 30.4 inches, compared to a 26.5-inch record set for February in 1962. St. Cloud has measured 22.0 inches of snow this February, as compared to a record of 21.6 inches in 1971.
While snowplow operators finish their cleanup today, they will also be gearing up for round two coming Friday and Saturday. The snow track is still uncertain, but the Willmar area has an 80 percent chance of seeing more than 2 inches of snow and a 24 percent chance of seeing more than 6 inches, according to the recent forecast information.