Snowstorm eases after second day
Published 6:58 am Thursday, December 10, 2009
A snowstorm that hit southern Minnesota hard Tuesday night continued into Wednesday, as predicted.
The total snowfall was difficult to measure in Austin Wednesday, because of all the drifts, but KIMT TV meteorologist Jessica McLaughlin said she had reports from Austin of seven to 11 inches of snow accumulating as of Wednesday.
By 2 p.m. Wednesday the National Weather Service reported that 11 inches had accumulated in Austin.
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“This is the biggest snowstorm in a few years,” McLaughlin said.
The NWS called it an “extremely dangerous storm..the kind that may result in a loss of life if proper precautions are not taken.”
The bulk of the snow fell overnight Tuesday and flurries continued into the afternoon hours Wednesday. Strong winds kept the blizzard conditions in effect for the entire day. Gusts remained steadily over 35 mph most of the day, and a couple of winds were reported to be 40 and 50 mph, McLaughlin said.
The wind-chill hit 15 below by mid-afternoon Wednesday and was expected to hit 20 to 30 below zero by nightfall, with winds diminishing after midnight as the storm continued to roar eastward, according to the NWS.
Temperatures and wind-chill were expected to remain low for the rest of the week.
Thursday’s forecast is mostly sunny with a high of 6 degrees, according to the NWS, with Friday and Saturday partly to mostly sunny and a slight chance of snow Sunday and Monday.
Austin students and teachers woke up to a snow day yesterday and so did some workers.
County offices were closed as were many businesses on Main Street.
But, the city was not asleep, and business was booming for some.
One Main Street restaurant that was open yesterday was Steve’s Pizza, 421 Main St. N.
“We had a really big lunch rush, both for delivery and dine-in,” assistant manager Gloria Bina said.
Bina said that the pizzeria picks up delivery business during most snowstorms and whenever the temperatures dip.
“It’s typical. People don’t want to go out in the snow and cold, so we bring their meals right to them,” she said.
The Holiday Inn of Austin, 1701 Fourth St. NW, was busy during the storm too.
The hotel booked about 40 additional rooms for Wednesday and Thursday nights.
“We have experienced a significant increase due to the weather,” general manager Scott Davy said. He said many of the hotel’s guests extended their stays because they were unable to travel.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation warned drivers to stay off the roads as much as possible. Blowing snow and reduced visibility caused extremely poor driving conditions, according to MnDOT.
The Rochester airport was also completely shutdown Tuesday evening and about half of the flights coming into or out of Minneapolis were canceled or delayed.
Davy said that in addition to guests extending their stays, the hotel also booked several rooms for truck drivers coming in off of slippery roads and others that had planned to travel to the airports.
The Holiday Inn also had many cancellations due to weather, he said.
Officials warned people to stay off of the roads during the storm, and to those who did drive, to do so with caution, according to MnDOT.
MnDOT advised drivers not to travel in southeastern Minnesota through Wednesday afternoon, and extended the warning until midnight due to poor visibility conditions caused by wind.
The roads remained 100 percent open, with MnDOT plowing 24 hours. They plow again for 24 hours Thursday, doing extra clean-up on ramps, bridges and major intersections.
Wiens said there had been a big issue with stalled cars throughout the day Wednesday, related mostly to the cold temperatures.
“In general, people paid attention to the warnings. They stayed home and those who did go out used extreme caution,” Wiens said.