The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 26, 2014

Blizzard brings freezing temperatures

Roads should be clear for travel this morning

MANKATO — If yet another round of blowing snow and blizzard conditions weren't enough to say enough is enough with this weather, take a look at the forecast.

The strong, steady winds that lowered visibility and created some snow drifts on south central Minnesota roads Wednesday night also ushered in a cold front that's expected to keep temperatures 30 to 40 degrees below normal well into next week.

Although the winds picked up Wednesday afternoon, almost every highway in southern Minnesota was marked as fair for travel before dark. The roads remained that way well into the evening because the blowing snow remained low to the ground, said Jed Falgren, District Seven maintenance engineer for the Department of Transportation.

"It could have been much worse," he said at about 9 p.m. Wednesday night as plow crews were being sent home for the night. "Our biggest challenge for the rest of the year is the ditches are full of snow so we're going to be dealing with drifts until the groundhog decides winter is over."

Falgren said plows would hit the highways north of Mankato again at about 4 a.m. this morning. He expected the roads to be clear by the time drivers start heading to work.

Anticipated drifting and poor visibility caused by blowing snow prompted the Department of Transportation to send out a travel advisory for no unnecessary travel after dark in south central Minnesota. There was a concern that drivers would encounter areas of near zero visibility and large drifts.

Troopers, deputies and snow plow drivers were prepared for another long night of keeping the roads as safe as possible as the winds were picking up Wednesday evening.

The freezing cold weather makes road work more challenging for troopers, said Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha of the State Patrol. They're prepared for the weather, but they occasionally find stranded drivers and passengers who are not.

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