MANKATO — Forecasters, who have been warning of a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm for nearly a week, issued their final prediction Tuesday of who will get hit hardest.
At the middle of the bullseye: Mankato.
If the forecast holds, Mankato will get 13 inches of snow by the time the storm exits the area late Wednesday afternoon — the center of a swath of heavy snowfall stretching from Fairmont to the Twin Cities that is expected to see at least a foot of snow.
By early Tuesday evening, Eagle Lake (starting at 8 a.m.) and Le Sueur (beginning at 4 a.m.) had declared snow emergencies, meaning residents need to have vehicles off the streets or risk being towed.
There’s a good chance that Mankato will be doing the same, said Streets Superintendent Joe Grabianowski.
“Just based on the (predicted) accumulation, it’s pretty likely,” said Grabianowski, adding that on-street parking should be avoided when possible even absent a snow emergency. “We’re just so much more efficient and effective if we don’t have to plow around cars.”
Considering the likelihood of a snow emergency, Grabianowski was particularly concerned about people who might be catching a ride out of town for the long Thanksgiving weekend. He didn’t want anyone to return on Sunday, when a second round of wintry weather is expected to be winding down, to find their car at an impound lot. City-owned ramps downtown will be available for free parking through the weekend for those wanting to avoid the risk of a tow.
Even as the storm approached, city crews were spraying brine on major roads. That work ended mid-afternoon, when salt boxes were put back on the plows in preparation for plowing.
Main routes and hills were to be plowed throughout the night with crews scheduled to hit residential streets Wednesday morning once snowfall rates start to drop. The bulk of the snow was predicted to fall before 10 a.m.
Grabianowski was confident people would be able to get to supermarkets to pick up turkeys, potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie filling on Wednesday: “But plan some extra time.”
For people planning more distant trips, the Minnesota Department of Transportation was warning drivers that plows were likely to be pulled from the highways after 10 p.m. Tuesday.
The heaviest snowfalls were predicted for the overnight hours with gusty winds creating near-whiteout conditions. Although plows were expected to be back in action by the early morning hours, continued heavy winds were likely to delay progress on making highways drivable, according to MnDOT spokesperson Rebecca Arndt.
Those with travel plans should check www.511mn.org for real-time road conditions before hitting the highways, Arndt said.
It’s also advisable that people check for cancellation announcements. Those were happening on Tuesday even before the first flakes arrived. While K-12 students in Mankato and many other districts were set to start their Thanksgiving break on Wednesday, some schools that were scheduled to be in session Wednesday — including St. Peter, St. Clair, United South Central and the New Country School — had canceled classes.