The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 9, 2012

Sunday snowday: Sledders hit hills, plows hit roads

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — After waking up Sunday and looking out the window of their home in Janesville, the Posas family knew exactly where they wanted to be: Sibley Park.

“We couldn’t wait to get out of the house and get to the hill,” Luis Posas said as he watched his wife, Levi, and 5-year-old daughter, Kimberly, take a run down the popular sliding hill. “The weather is great today and it’s nice to be out here. It’s not too windy.”

Mankato was on the southern edge of a snow storm that blew across Minnesota Sunday. Only a few inches fell in the Mankato area, but many cities to the north received between 9 and 15 inches.

After a mild winter last year, city workers were ready to be put to the test, said Mark Knoff, Public Works director. There were nine plows that hit the streets at 6 a.m. The work was done by 3 p.m., but Knoff said crews were planning to be back out on the road by 3 a.m. this morning. Not every neighborhood will be cleared before people start going to work, but the major roads should be ready.

Sunday’s snow storm wasn’t even close to a major event in Mankato, which would have resulted in a full force of 21 trucks plowing the streets and another five trucks plowing parking lots and trails, Knoff said.

It also helped that all of the trucks were checked and tested in October and November to make sure they were ready, he said. Drivers drove their routes to make sure there were no trees in the way and manholes weren’t sticking up too far above the street.

“The roads were still pretty warm so a lot of the snow melted,” he said. “Our biggest concern was the dropping temperatures. We didn’t want it to freeze on us.”

Temperatures were expected to drop dramatically overnight, so Cmdr. Pam Hermanson of the Department of Public Safety is warning drivers to take their time on the way to work this morning. She also said it’s wise to allow for more stopping time and reminded drivers that all windows have to be completely cleared of snow or ice.

Police officers weren’t too busy Sunday, either. They responded to 11 crashes, four hit-and-runs and one crash with a very minor injury in the city Sunday, Hermanson said.

Driving was much more difficult in other parts of the state. The State Patrol reported responding to almsot 600 crashes and more than 900 spin-outs or vehicles off the road throughout the state. There were about 30 crashes with injuries, including one rollover in Nicollet County.

Some grumbled about having to clear their driveways, but many people joined the Posas family in finding ways to enjoy the snow Sunday. Kids all over town were rolling the heavy, wet snow into snowmen and forts.

Jack Weringa and Ethan Radel, both 11, talked a mom into taking them to several stores to find a sled. Then they were dropped off at Sibley Park, where they planned to stay for at least a couple hours.

They admitted they were Vikings fans, but said sliding and rolling around in the snow was much more fun than sitting on a couch and watching football.

“This is better than summer because the snow is fun,” Weringa said.

“And you don’t get hurt when you fall down,” Radel added.