Between two snowstorms

Snow on Thursday and Saturday meant cleanup efforts on area roads

Photo by Mike Lamb Plows worked to remove snow from Main Street after more than five inches fell on Marshall Thursday evening. Plow crews from the Minnesota Department of Transportation were also back in action on Saturday, as more snow fell across the region.

MARSHALL — It was only the second big snowstorm of the season. But with more than five inches of snow falling on the Marshall area Thursday, and more coming Saturday, the cleanup efforts were underway.

Both Marshall city and Lyon County snowplow drivers were at work Friday morning, and they were preparing for Saturday’s snowstorm, as well.

Lyon County snowplow drivers put in about eight hours of work Friday morning, to get the county highways cleared, said Lyon County Engineer Aaron VanMoer. There were some equipment breakdowns that delayed plowing on some routes Friday, but so far the winter weather conditions haven’t been too far out of the ordinary for snow removal, VanMoer said.

In Marshall, city workers were out plowing streets at 3 a.m. Friday, said Marshall Public Ways Superintendent Dean Coudron. The amount of snow that fell Thursday evening meant a different approach to clearing the streets, he said. With a snowfall of more than a couple of inches, Coudron said, “We can’t really salt much beforehand.”

Spreading salt and sand on the streets helps keep things from getting too slippery in a lighter snowfall, he said.

As of Friday afternoon, it was still a little early to tell exactly what kind of snow removal would be needed over the weekend, VanMoer and Coudron said.

“If we get as much snow as expected,” Lyon County plows would probably be out on Sunday morning, VanMoer said.

For Marshall city workers, “It depends on how much snow we get (Saturday),” Coudron said. Marshall’s policy is to plow if there is more than two inches of snow, Coudron said.

Snowfall on Saturday hit the Marshall region in the afternoon and early evening. Around 4 p.m., large flakes were falling in Marshall. At about the same time, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported snow-covered highways throughout southwest Minnesota, with visibility readings down to about a third of a mile near Hanley Falls. Cameras on snowplows working on Minnesota Highway 23, Minnesota Highway 19, and U.S. Highway 14 were all showing snowy roads.

VanMoer said planning for county snow removal, and gathering supplies like road salt and sand, does require some flexibility. It’s not easy to predict how much snow southwest Minnesota will get each winter.

“We do a look back over six to eight years, and try to shoot for the average,” he said.

“I think we’ve been fortunate this year,” VanMoer said. There hasn’t been a lot of snow this winter, and “there’s still room in the ditches for snow,” he said.

Ditches play an important role in managing snow, VanMoer said. In years with heavy snowfall, the ditches can fill up, and lead to problems with drifting snow on the roads.

Weather in the Marshall area is expected to get warmer this week, with high temperatures in the 30s, according to National Weather Service forecasts. However, there are possibilities for blowing snow this afternoon, with wind gusts as high as 30 miles per hour.