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Lingering ice ruts from blizzard make for bumpy ride in central MN

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- A perfect storm of circumstances last Friday, Nov. 18, created treacherous road conditions in the area - built-up patches of thick ice ruts that are still lingering around Douglas County.

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - A perfect storm of circumstances last Friday, Nov. 18, created treacherous road conditions in the area – built-up patches of thick ice ruts that are still lingering around Douglas County.

It made for bumpy, slippery patches on several roads, including Interstate 94, County Road 82, Highway 29 and several city streets. The patches were so thick and stuck to the surface that snow plows couldn’t scrape them away.

Here’s what happened, according to Dave Robley, Douglas County highway engineer:

The rain, which was supposed to have started Thursday night, Nov. 17 didn’t start falling until 6 or 6:30 on Friday. The moisture turned into ice and slush, which quickly became compacted by traffic.

Then the wind picked up, which dropped temperatures on the road surface, minimizing the effectiveness of the salt mixture that road crews were putting on the road to melt the ice.

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“Salt works better when it’s above 15 or 20 degrees,” Robley explained. “When it gets below 10 degrees like it did Friday morning, it’s ineffective.”

After that crusty coating of stubborn ice formed, the snow came – more than 8 inches of it, which kept the road crews busy. They logged about 14 hours Friday and put in another 10 to 12 hours Saturday, Robley said, but cold temperatures and cloudy conditions kept most of the ice ruts from melting.
On Monday, helped by warming temperatures and sunshine, the plow trucks were out again, making progress, little by little, on all the ice ruts that formed during the storm. Late Monday morning, Robley expected that most of the rough spots would be gone by the end of the day, except for those in deeply shaded areas “It’s coming off good today,” he said.

But another bout of freezing rain and snow hit the area Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Every snowstorm is different,” Robley said. “The conditions are different every time – when the rain or snow starts and ends, the moisture, the ground temperature of the pavement.”

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