Snow replaces cold

MARSHALL – City officials in Marshall were anticipating a quiet, nondescript 1 or 2 inches of snow Tuesday. Needless to say, the city and its residents got more than they bargained for.

More than 9 inches of light, fluffy snow fell in Marshall on Tuesday, leading officials to declare a rare snow removal emergency Wednesday morning.

“The information we had was 1 to 3 inches; we got 9.3 inches,” said City Engineer Glenn Olson. “That pretty much calls for a snow emergency. Residents and businesses should understand that 9.3 inches of snow with one snowfall will most likely generate a snow emergency.”

Olson said depending on what time of day the snow falls and what day of the week it is, a snow declaration could be issued when at least 6 inches of snow falls at one time.

The snow removal emergency will run until noon on Friday, as city crews work to clear the streets of snow and then apply salt/sand.

Snow removal operations will proceed from downtown areas, emergency snow removal routes to all major streets, and finally residential areas. The downtown area and other signed snow emergency areas will be ticketed and towed, and all other routes will be ticketed.

The city is requesting residents remove their vehicles from all street areas to allow crews to remove snow from the streets.

Olson said the amount of moisture in the snow is less than one-half inch, which helps in the removal process, “but it still takes a long time to get around to everything. Then, of course, we put out the sanders after we scrape the streets and take the snow off.”

The snowy weather, which forced a few area school districts to start two hours late, resulted in eight property damage crashes, including three rollovers in the Marshall district of the Minnesota State Patrol. There were two crashes that resulted in injuries.

Jeff Chapman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., said the storm system evolved very quickly into an intense narrow band of snow running in a line from Brookings, S.D., through Marshall, all the way to Mankato and into the Austin and Rochester areas in southcentral and southeastern Minnesota.

“As I was observing things in Sioux Falls (Tuesday) it looked a little unstable in the mid-level of the atmosphere, and that may have helped lead to the narrowing of the band,” he said. “It was maybe a 20- to 30-mile wide band of heavier snow.”

Currie received 8 inches of new snow Tuesday, the NWS said, while 6 inches fell north of Slayton and in the Tracy area.

Chapman said snow systems like Tuesday’s are quite common during this time of the year.

“As we claw our way out of the real cold time of the year, a lot of times we’re more susceptible to these kind of snowfalls,” he said. “There’s more moisture in the atmosphere, and there is a little more instability in these systems.”