The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 10, 2013

Slushstorm here, blizzard elsewhere

By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The east coast was digging out from massive Winter Storm Nemo, central Minnesota was dealing with blowing snow and Mankato was yawning through a no-show Sunday.

The first wave of a storm that prompted blizzard warnings as far south as Nicollet and Brown counties brought only rain, sleet and slush locally through Sunday evening. With temperatures predicted to drop into the 20s overnight with winds picking up and another inch of snow/sleet possible, conditions were expected to be worse this morning.

But Sunday brought only a couple of inches of the sloppy gray stuff during the morning hours, with total precipitation of less than a third of an inch by evening, even as some spots in north-central and western Minnesota were reporting 8-12 inches of snow.

Seven Mankato plows were on the streets before 6 a.m. as the stuff falling from the sky — ranging from sleet to rain to supersized snowflakes — began to pile up as a slushy coating on pavement. The city website advised drivers to use caution as the slush caused “slippery conditions,” but much of it turned liquid as the temperature rose to 36 degrees just before 1 p.m. and didn’t budge a degree all afternoon.

“The streets were relatively problem-free,” said Mankato Public Safety Commander Amy Vokal.

Heavy fog settled in with light rain falling by late afternoon. The predicted storm kept shoppers at home with streets and stores much quieter on the Mankato hilltop than is typical for a Sunday.

A pair of vehicles slid off Blue Earth County roads left sloppy and muddy by the mixed precipitation, but main roads were in good shape, said Lt. Tony Adams of the sheriff’s office.

“The blacktop roads are pretty much just wet right now,” Adams said late Sunday afternoon. “If we get some refreeze tonight, they’re going to get slick.”

Temperatures were forecast to fall slowly through the 20s overnight and today and drop through the teens tonight, bottoming out at 11 degrees by 6 a.m. Tuesday. Winds were predicted to swing to the northwest and increase to 20-25 mph after midnight with gusts as high as 45 mph. Less than an inch of snow and patchy freezing drizzle were expected in the early morning hours, according to the National Weather Service, with less than a half-inch of snow added today.

The high winds were what prompted the blizzard warning for points to the north and west, but Adams said he didn’t expect much trouble from the wind in the immediate Mankato area.

“The snow is so wet and heavy, we’re not too concerned about blowing snow (in Blue Earth County),” he said.

Any snow later today is predicted to wrap up by 7 p.m. with skies clearing and winds dropping overnight. Tuesday is expected to be all sunshine with light winds and a 29-degree high.