20.5 inches of snow falls
WORTHINGTON -- As southwest Minnesota and the surrounding region continued to dig itself out after the Christmas snowstorm, local law enforcement asked travelers to continue driving cautiously and paying attention to road conditions.
"We would advise caution, and for people to be very careful when pulling into intersections with higher snowbanks, because you can't see over them," said Sgt. Bill Bolt of the Worthington Police Department. "People need to edge out carefully. Have patience, and be willing to yield to each other."
The City of Worthington will likely remove the wind rows in the middle of streets some time today, but large piles of snow on the sides of the roads and on the boulevard still make visibility somewhat challenging.
Still, there was good news after the blizzard -- there had been far fewer accidents than law enforcement officials expected.
"I think because the storm hit so late, that a lot of people had already gotten to where they wanted to go, and a lot of businesses were closed, so there wasn't a big need to have people out and about -- which helped cut the traffic down, which resulted in fewer accidents," Bolt explained.
There were also fewer medical calls than expected, particularly given the sheer amount of wet, heavy snow the area received.
Though South Dakota was hit far harder by the snowstorm than its neighbor to the east, the highest snow total in southwest Minnesota was measured in Nobles County -- 20.5 inches. In comparison, Jackson had an estimated 14.5 inches of snow.
"Most of the area got a foot up to 20 inches. It seems to be centered right there in Nobles County, all through there were the highest amounts in southwest Minnesota," said Jim Murray, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D. "You kind of have a bullseye there."
The storm system moved out of the southern plains, picked up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and pulled it into South Dakota, northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota, Murray said. Because the system was moving so slowly, it took almost three days to move to the east, dumping snow on the region the entire time.
"This was a well-advertised system. We were advertising it days before it happened. I think people were aware of it, and heeded our warning," Murray said.
Today, said Murray, the skies are expected to remain clear, with temperatures dropping into the mid-teens.
The highest winds of the storm stayed in the James River Valley, and South Dakota was issued a blizzard warning due to reduced visibility. The National Weather Service retained the South Dakota blizzard warning a little longer than usual so that people wouldn't get back on the road until clean up efforts were already underway.
"All in all, the Worthington Police Department appreciates the cooperation of everyone over the Christmas holidays, and we wish everybody a happy New Year," Bolt said.