A big dig

WORTHINGTON -- Although dangerous weather conditions still persisted, the region's residents slowly began to dig out Friday following one of the largest snowstorms in recent years. The sounds of snow blowers, plows and shovels were the prevalent ...

WORTHINGTON -- Although dangerous weather conditions still persisted, the region's residents slowly began to dig out Friday following one of the largest snowstorms in recent years. The sounds of snow blowers, plows and shovels were the prevalent noise throughout the day in every neighborhood.

At the Worthington Wastewater Treatment Plant on the north side of the city, the official recording station for the city, 14 inches of new snow were recorded by Friday morning, with occasional snow showers throughout the day adding to the storm's total. Other snowfall amounts from across the region were: Lakefield, 10 inches; Sibley, Iowa, 15 inches; Windom, 12 inches, Slayton, 12 inches, Sheldon, Iowa, 12 inches.

"Yesterday we had 7½ inches, and we've had about 4 inches since 10 o'clock last night," reported Dick Jeffrey, the weather recorder for Windom, on Friday afternoon. "Of course, everybody I'll talk to will argue with me" about the totals, he added.

The measurable precipitation -- which amounted to .67 inches on Thursday and probably about .22 inches on Friday, according to Jeffrey -- is measured via a scientific gauge once the snow is melted. But the snowfall totals are estimated using a less sophisticated gadget -- a yardstick stuck into the snow bank.

Moving that snow, which in many places had been drifted into much larger banks by substantial winds, proved much more difficult than measuring it. Getting the region's roads and highways opened to safe travel was a challenge for snowplow crews on all levels.


The Minnesota Department of Transportation had hoped to open Interstate 90 from Albert Lea to the South Dakota to travelers by noon, but jackknifed semitrailer rigs plugging the roadway hindered efforts. The highway was finally opened at about 3 p.m., although I-90 from Sioux Falls to Chamberlain, S.D., remained closed due to continued hazardous driving conditions. By late afternoon, Mn/DOT advised that most state highways in southwest Minnesota were passable, but travel was not advised. Highways that remained closed at that time were U.S. 75 through Rock County and U.S. 71 from Interstate 90 to Iowa in Jackson County.

The Nobles County Highway Department crew was on the road by 6 a.m. Friday, working to clear the 460 miles of highway for which the county takes responsibility.

"We have 10 trucks out, two motorgraders and two snowblowers out today," reported Steve Schnieder, Nobles County engineer late Friday afternoon. "They're going to be ending about 5:30 tonight. There's quite a bit left to do. There's some shifting snow, and we've had a few trucks get stuck. It's icy under the snow, and when one gets stuck, somebody else has to go pull them out so they're not plowing snow."

During the course of the two-day storm, the county crews also helped with three ambulance runs, including one for an expectant mother in labor.

Worthington city crews hit the streets at 4 a.m. Friday and were also preparing to call it quits late in the afternoon.

"We have the downtown windrow to remove and cleanup around the perimeters," said Worthington Director of Public Works Jim Laffrenzen. "We'll have to go back and do cleanup. People blow snow into the street, then we have to go back and clean it up. ... Everything should be done by Monday night."

Although the blizzard was for the most part over, most places of business remained closed Friday in Worthington and surrounding communities, although a few hardy souls braved the roads to open up by afternoon. But most events continued to be cancelled or postponed, including all sporting events in the region.

The Home Health & Garden Show sponsored by the Marketing-Visitors Committee of the Worthington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which was scheduled for Friday evening and Saturday at the Northland Mall in Worthington, was postponed. A one-day event Saturday was considered, but many of the show's vendors had to come from out of town, according to Darlene Macklin, executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, and traveling conditions were predicted to still be questionable. A new date for the event has yet to be decided, contingent on the mall schedule.


The opening reception for an exhibit of student artwork at the Nobles County Art Center, 407 12th St., was rescheduled for next Friday.

At the Daily Globe, the circulation department worked through the night Thursday into Friday, making sure as many subscribers as possible would get their papers on Friday morning. But closed roadways made it impossible to deliver papers outside the Worthington city limits.

"What we did was deliver in the city of Worthington wherever we could get to," reported circulation manager Denise Erwin Friday morning, just before she went home to catch some much-needed sleep. "We delivered all the carrier bundles, but mail was not going out at all, and you couldn't leave town. So, the out-of-town ones, everything outside of Worthington, will be delivered Saturday. We're planning on having the carriers deliver those Friday and Saturday papers together on Saturday."

What To Read Next
Get Local