Austin dodges brunt of storm

Snow and slush are cleared from a downtown parking lot Thursday morning. Austin dodged the brunt of the mid-winter storm as southwestern Minnesota is dealing with wide-spread power outages and the Twin Cities is receiving a heavy helping of snow.

A plow driver clears snow and slush from a downtown parking lot Thursday morning. Austin dodged the brunt of the spring storm while southwestern Minnesota dealt with widespread power outages, and the Twin Cities received a heavy helping of snow.
Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Ice knocks out power in western Minn.

The ice from freezing rain that struck western Minnesota and knocked out power for thousands left Austin and Albert Lea alone.

Austin received about 3⁄10 of an inch of rain overnight, yet several area schools had two-hour delays while some even closed.

The National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., said the wintry conditions could persist into next week as more rain, freezing rain and snow could fall today and each day through Wednesday.

“Toward the mid part of next week it’s still a little unclear what type of precipitation we’ll see,” said NWS meteorologist Todd Shea.

Thursday’s high could reach 35 degrees, and meteorologists expect less than an inch of snow accumulation if rain transitions to snow. The overnight low may again dip below the freezing mark at 28. While there has been some thaw over the past weeks, Shea added, frost remains in the ground underneath the 4- to 6-inch mark.

The slow-moving storm will slide into Wisconsin today and tonight. Some areas of western Minnesota reported anywhere from 3 to 9 inches of snow thus far. Snowfall totals in South Dakota were 3 to 8 inches.

Gov. Mark Dayton called on the Minnesota National Guard Wednesday to help residents of southwestern Minnesota after an ice storm knocked out power to thousands of people, and another storm threatened to dump several inches of wet snow by Thursday.

Dayton said the storms were taxing the resources of local and county governments and that conditions were expected to worsen.

Worthington residents were using backup diesel generators to power sections of the city, public utilities manager Scott Hain told Minnesota Public Radio. Roughly a quarter to a third of the city of about 13,000 people was without power at any given time.

Rachel Kruger, director of emergency services for the American Red Cross of South Central Minnesota, said that both Rock and Nobles Counties were about 90 percent without power.

The Nobles County Government Center closed for power outages, while the local hospital operated on generator power, along with a nursing home in the town of Hills, the state Department of Public Safety said. The National Guard armory in Luverne opened to house 28 juveniles and seven staff members from a detention center that lost power. Twenty assisted-living residents from Tuff Memorial Home in Hills were moved to the center’s 50-bed nursing home after the storm knocked out power.

The Radio Works group of stations in Worthington lost one of its three towers because of the ice storm. General Manager Chad Cummings said the top three-fourths of the tower fell to the ground Wednesday morning. There were no injuries, no damage to buildings or the fence surrounding the tower.

To the north, the Twin Cities and St. Cloud received about 2 to 3 inches of snow, Shea said, while portions of west-central Minnesota received 8 to 9 inches. No matter how much snow falls, though, Minneapolis won’t declare a snow emergency. A city ordinance prohibits that after April 1, but city officials promised that crews will be out to treat and clear streets.

 

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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