By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — County singer Patsy Cline merely sang “Crazy.” This spring IS crazy.
That’s the consensus of cabin fever sufferers such as Mankato snow removal service owner Jordan Smith.
“We took all our plows off April 3 and put them in storage. And then we had to take them back out. It’s been just crazy this year.”
With Mankato-area residents expectingd to be greeted Tuesday morning by anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of snow, plow jockeys are pairing winter 2013 to that Yogi Berra-ism: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
The quick-melt factor notwithstanding.
“Even if it’s going to be gone in four hours, we’ll never ignore it,” North Mankato Street Supt. Brad Swanson said of spring snows.
He said even if it snows a mere inch or so, he’ll send out four plows (a full complement is 14) to clear the city’s high-volume roads.
He said that’s because of the ice-up factor, which portends a greater safety hazard than the snow.
“I’d rather have a 4-inch snowfall than a tenth of an inch of ice.”
Swanson said late-season snows aren’t the hassle for city garages they once were because contemporary plows can be popped on and off trucks in about 30 seconds.
Tom Zimmerman, district superintendent for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, knows the wisdom of keeping snow-cleaving equipment at the ready, even well into the calendar spring.
“Until May we don’t put plows anywhere where we can’t easily get at them.”
By mid-morning Monday he’d already dispatched plow trucks in southwestern Minnesota, where the predicted snowstorm was getting an earlier-than-expected start.
Zimmerman said MnDOT plows go out anytime there’s a potential for traffic hazards, and that includes even slushy roads.
“The problem with slush is that when traffic hits it, you can hydroplane.”
For Smith’s commercial and residential snow removal customers, the spate of April snowfalls is beginning to wear thin.
He said some fed-up clients have called to tell him to stay away and let it all just melt, although one reconsidered when he realized the impending hassle for his customers’ vehicles.
Smith, who also operates a landscaping service, said by this time last year he’d been mowing lawns for three weeks and had built three patios.
“It’s going to be a busy spring — once spring comes.”
That could be on Friday, when a seasonable 60 degrees is forecast, followed by more of the same Saturday and Sunday.