Snow removal reaching new heights

Photo by Jenny Kirk Standing on a ladder, Marshall resident Bob Dorlac removes snow off his roof on Monday.

MARSHALL — As the snow continues to pile up in the Marshall area this February, residents are enduring more and more challenges — including the chore of removing snow off their roofs — and it doesn’t look like conditions are likely to improve yet this week.

Marshall needs less than 2 inches of snow to make it the third-snowiest on record in the past 85 years, according to forecasters out of the National Weather Service-Sioux Falls, South Dakota, office.

“I know it’s wintertime in Minnesota, but it’s getting tiring,” Dean Coudron said.

Along with his brother-in-law, Kevin Lanoue, Coudron took on the task of clearing snow off his mom’s roof on Monday in Marshall.

“The roof ice is building up,” Coudron said.

Across town, Bob Dorlac had grabbed his roof rake and a pair of shovels to take on a similar task regarding snow on his roof.

“This is one of the worst years for getting ice dams,” Dorlac said. “The sun melts the snow on the roof and then it freezes on the edge. If you don’t get it off of there, it continues to melt and backs up and flows under your shingles.”

Dorlac said he had just bought a snow roof rake from Ace Hardware.

“They only have one left,” he said. “I checked all the other places they sell roof rakes and they are all sold out. They said they hadn’t sold one for years prior to this winter.”

Meteorologist Jim Murray said at least 23 inches has accumulated in the area this month, with the potential for more snow being predicted for three of the next five days.

“Right now, we’re starting to see a system develop in Marshall late (tonight),” Murray said. “Then that will continue through the night and be out of here by Wednesday afternoon. We don’t have any specific amounts yet — it’s still varying — but you could definitely see moderate amounts similar to this past weekend, with accumulation in the 3-5 range.”

Murray said the mid-week system doesn’t look like it will cause a lot of blowing snow.

“That’s definitely a plus,” he said. “Luckily, it should be just like this last system.”

While it is still too far out to accurately predict, Murray said there are hints that a “fairly strong system” could arrive on Saturday.

“It’s definitely something to watch for,” he said.

Along with the challenges that are created because of the heavy snowfall is that it hasn’t warmed up enough to melt much of the snow away. Murray said the last time the temperature was above freezing (32 degrees) was on Feb. 2.

“Marshall hit 41 degrees on February 2 but it was a very brief warm-up,” Murray said. “It was 10 degrees on February 1 and February 3, so it barely counts.”

While conditions settle into a milder pattern, with highs between 18 and 25 degrees, there is no extended warming period for the next two weeks.

“There’s nothing above normal for 10 to 15 days out,” Murray said, adding that the deeper snow packing the ground makes it even tougher to fight through.

“White is reflective, so the sun doesn’t get absorbed like when the ground is brown or green. So in addition to the cold by itself, it knocks 10-15 degrees off the temperature. It makes a big difference. If there was no snow on the ground, we could be having a pretty mild winter.”

Dorlac said he’s lived in Marshall for 16 years and has encountered colder winters but few that included more snow.

“It’s one of the worst snowiest,” he said. “There have been colder winters, but it’s one of the worst for snow on the roof. And I heard we could get 5-8 inches of snow on Saturday.”

Hardware Department Manager Danny Steinwand said Menard’s has sold quite a few snow shovels and roof rakes this winter.

“We’ve sold about 30 of them,” Steinwand said about the roof rakes. “We’re out of them right now. It usually takes a week to get more in, but we should be getting more soon. There’s been a higher demand for them than in previous year.”

Assistant Manager Taylor Mueller said the Marshall Runnings store was also sold out of roof rakes.

“We sold them all this week,” she said. I’m assuming we’ll be getting more stock in. We’ve been getting lots and lots of phone calls for them. We’ve also sold a lot of shovels and I heard we’re supposed to get more snow this week.”

Salesman Dave Sandquist confirmed that Patzer’s Hardware Hank is also currently sold out of roof rakes.

“We have them ordered and hope to have them on the truck — weather permitting — on Thursday,” said Sandquist, a 30-year employee. “I would gladly pay somebody to remove snow off my roof. It certainly helps to get that first six to eight feet off, especially where the gutters are.”