It’s not over yet

More snow and high winds forecast as historic storm hits region

Photo by Karin Elton Main Street in Marshall was a snowy, slushy sight Wednesday mid-morning. School buses could be seen on the streets delivering children back to their homes after a short day of school.

MARSHALL — Jason Alston’s attitude toward the blizzard that slammed into southern Minnesota Wednesday is probably shared by many residents of the region.

“I’m not happy about it,” he said while shoveling the newly fallen snow off the steps on his front porch on Saratoga Street.

“I always know that winter is not done in Minnesota until May. You kind of expect it. At the same time, it’s not less unpleasant.”

Snowfall totals over the course of Wednesday and today are likely to add up to some unpleasant numbers in the Marshall area, the National Weather Service said.

“We’re still thinking around 20 inches of snow,” said Brad Temeyer, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Sioux Falls. This storm will probably rank in Marshall’s top five two-day snowfall records, he said. The all-time high for two-day snow totals was 30 inches, reported on Feb. 20, 1952.

By noon on Wednesday, around 7 inches of snow had already fallen in the Marshall area. That left a lot more to go, spaced out over Wednesday and today. Temeyer said the snow would lighten up on Wednesday afternoon and evening, only to start falling again early this morning.

“(Today) during the day, the winds are going to be really strong,” he said. NWS forecasts showed wind gusts of up to 35-40 miles per hour in the Marshall area. Temeyer said the strong winds would make it harder to measure snowfall amounts today. At the same time, he said, travel would become “nearly impossible.”

Road conditions were already becoming dangerous on Wednesday. For part of the day, the Minnesota Department of Transportation advised no travel in Lyon, Murray, Pipestone and Redwood counties, as well as in southern Lincoln County and parts of Yellow Medicine County. Areas of heavy snow in the region made for poor visibility, said MnDOT maintenance superintendent Craig Gertsema. One of the risks of being out on the highway on Wednesday was that motorists might have better visibility in some areas, only to run into worse conditions later.

“We had a lot of people drive off the road,” Gertsema said. Slippery conditions also put lots of vehicles in the ditch.

Gertsema said MnDOT didn’t anticipate that it would need to stop snowplows or close any roads. But for motorists, traveling during the storm wasn’t a safe idea.

The area remains in a blizzard warning that will last until 7 a.m. Friday.

The Marshall area started bracing itself for the blizzard early on. Schools canceled classes Wednesday, and the city of Marshall issued a snow removal notice running today through Saturday.

Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said city snowplow crews were out on Wednesday, and to continue at least through Friday.

“We want to make sure emergency access is given to all the places that need it,” like the hospital, ambulance and fire service, he said. But Olson said it will take multiple passes to clear Marshall streets curb to curb. That’s why the city is asking residents not to park on residential streets, or in areas restricted for winter snow removal.

Later on, when the snow begins to melt, Olson said residents should remember to keep their storm drains and catch basins clear of snow and ice.

With this winter’s record snowfall amounts, flooding has been a concern in southwest Minnesota. However, NWS hydrologist Mike Gillispie said Wednesday that the additional snow from this storm isn’t likely to be an additional flood risk right away.

Temperatures look like they’ll remain cool this week, and the Marshall area likely won’t see significant melting until early next week, he said.

In terms of flooding risks on the Redwood River, “The big issue is how fast it’s going to melt,” Gillispie said.

— Mike Lamb contributed to this report