Moving snow 1/23

Downsizing sight-obscuring snowpiles at intersections is one of the add-on tasks for city of Mankato crews during snow-intensive winters such as this.

You pull up to an intersection stop sign, look right and left, and see not approaching cars but sight-obscuring piles of plowed snow.

So you inch ahead ... and hope you’re in the clear.

It’s a winter corner conundrum that hasn’t been seen in recent years, but it’s raising Cain with motorists this season.

“Low-profile cars are the ones that really have a tough time with it,” said Mankato Streets Supervisor Jim Braunshausen, whose crews have been playing a shell game of sorts with the pile removals.

“We take a loader out and we’re grabbing it and moving it down the block for now,” he said.

Eventually, that moved snow will be moved again to the city’s snow-dumping lot near Cub Foods West — a lot that has been filling up mightily since the start of the snow season.

Early on this winter, thoughts turned to putting an alternate city lot to use when the primary lot became full. But Braunshausen said it looks like the main lot will suffice until the end of the season.

As for the intersection piles, he said recent warm weather has lowered them to some extent, while a continuing problem has been high piles due to drifting in the more open areas of town.

When snow piles up on street corners, it also has another deleterious effect — fire hydrant obstruction.

St. Peter has put out a call to residents to “adopt” hydrants by keeping them shoveled out.

St. Peter Fire Chief Windy Block said buried hydrants can cause firefighters to waste precious minutes.

“First you’ve got to locate it. Then it can take five to 15 minutes to dig it out, depending on how much of it is buried.”

Block said this winter’s snow accumulations have been more sneaky than spectacular.

“We haven’t had the 16-, 17-inch snowfalls, but we’ve had a lot of 2- and 3-inchers, and it all adds up.”

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