Historic storm for some -- average for others
WILLMAR — The weekend blizzard, which caused church, school and community events to be cancelled and kept many people hunkered down Saturday and Sunday, dropped record-breaking snow in some parts of the state.
This was a "historic storm" for the metro area and some communities south of U.S. Highway 12 — like Montevideo that reported as much as 20.5 inches of snow — said Lisa Schmit, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen
But for many — including Willmar where 8 to 9 inches fell — this was just an average April snowstorm, Schmit said.
A string of towns reported double-digit snowfall amounts.
Granite Falls had 17 inches and Canby 19 inches that could push them into the historic category, she said. But for communities north of Highway 12 that were on the northern edge of the heavy snow band, this was a "somewhat typical storm for April," she said.
Because winds of 20 to 30 mph kept up a steady pace all weekend, Schmit said the impact was "extremely notable" even in areas that did not receive record-breaking snowfall amounts.
The wind and blowing snow reduced visibility and made roads slick, creating travel challenges for people who did venture out.
The Minnesota State Patrol reported Sunday afternoon there had been 558 crashes on state highways, including 64 with injuries and one fatality, for the period from 12:01 a.m. Friday through 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
There were also 1,058 vehicles that went off the road or spun out and 20 jackknifed semis.
Throughout the weekend, the Minnesota Department of Transportation had advised no travel on most roads in southern and west central Minnesota and had closed many roads for a time.
By Sunday afternoon, all those road restrictions had been lifted as snowplow crews kept up the crusade to clear snow and ice from roads.
Tim McCoy, maintenance supervisor for the MnDOT District 8 office in Willmar, said crews put in 16-hour days over the weekend to keep roads clear.
The worst roads included state Highway 40 west of Willmar and Highway 12 east of Willmar where slush was building up, causing vehicles to hydroplane and end up in the ditch, he said.
Other roads in the district "cleaned up pretty good," but McCoy cautioned there will be icy spots on otherwise dry roads that could catch motorists by surprise.
He advised people not to use cruise control and not to brake when they come upon areas of "blow ice" that's created when snow sticks to warm roads and is polished by the wind.
McCoy said MnDOT crews would be back out by 4 a.m. today to get roads cleaned up before the Monday morning commute.
Before people think winter is over now, Schmit said there's another chance for plowable snow by mid-week with Willmar possibly getting another 2 to 4 inches
"Unfortunately we're not quite out of the woods yet," she said.
Area snowfall amounts reported Sunday to the National Weather Service:
• Canby — 19 inches
• Granite Falls — 17 inches
• Lake Lillian — 8 inches
• Montevideo — 17.5 to 20.5 inches
• Paynesville — 7.5 inches
• Redwood Falls — 13.5 inches
• Spicer — 8.4 inches.