Ready for Round 2? More snow, frigid temperatures on the way
BEMIDJI -- It's not over yet.
As area residents brushed off, shoveled out and plowed their way through up to 10 inches of new snow Tuesday, the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks, N.D., said the area can expect possibly 10 inches more in some areas by Thursday.
Much of northern Minnesota, into the Red River Valley area to the west and the North Shore to the east, is in a winter storm warning through Thursday morning, the weather service said.
The region is forecast to receive anywhere from 5 to 8 inches of new snow by Thursday, but the weather service said the Bemidji area could possibly see even higher snow totals. And some areas near Duluth in the Twin Ports area could see more than a foot of new snow in the latest round, the weather service said, with four-day totals exceeding 2 feet in some areas.
On the heels of the new snow will be stronger winds that could create blizzard-like conditions with blowing and drifting snow, as well as dropping temperatures and wind chill values as cold as 30 below in some areas by Wednesday evening.
A total of 8.3 inches of new snow fell from early Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to the weather service's website. Bemidji Area Schools were open, but some schools in the area, and some local and regional events, were canceled because of Monday's snowfall.
The new snow also prompted numerous motor vehicle accidents in and around Bemidji, which kept local law enforcement and emergency personnel busy. Statewide, there were four fatalities attributed to snow and slippery road conditions, the Minnesota State Patrol said in a release, including one in Aitkin County when a vehicle slid across Highway 210 into oncoming traffic.
Both Bemidji and Beltrami County were busy clearing roads overnight Monday into Tuesday morning.
Beltrami County's fleet of 19 plows will be ready to hit the county roads once again this morning, officials said.
"Way it sounds we're supposed to see anywhere from 7 to 14 inches yet today and tomorrow before it's all said and done," said Ed Geving, Beltrami County road maintenance supervisor, on Tuesday morning. "It's going to be a long day tomorrow." Geving was reached for comment on his cell phone while still plowing Tuesday afternoon.
The crew starts on county roads within the city of Bemidji at about 3 a.m. and works its way out to the township roads. Blacktop is usually cleared in four hours and it takes another eight to 10 hours to plow the gravel roads.
"We can usually clear the whole system in one good 14-hour day," Geving said.
The county plows 1,000 miles of road which equates to 2,000 miles since each road needs to be driven down twice. Geving said it might take some time to get to the rural areas but they always clear every road before the end of the day.
"If at all possible, you're better off waiting until the plow goes through," Geving cautioned. "If you have to go, use your best judgement and drive safe."
Beltrami County uses a 50/50 salt and sand mixture to break up ice accumulation. The mix is deposited at all stop signs and corners and used to clear roads within a 5-mile radius of Bemidji.
In town, Craig Gray, the city's public works director, said Tuesday the city had all of its six plows out, and that by the end of today's plow run, each of the drivers would have worked from 27 to 40 total hours since the first run at 2 a.m. Monday. The plow shifts began in the middle of the night each day with the drivers taking breaks to sleep in the afternoon and evening, Gray said.
Gray advised motorists who see a snowplow ahead of them to give it a wide berth, as the plows have reduced visibility behind them relative to regular cars. Also, children should avoid playing in the roadside snowdrifts created by the plows, as they may be unsafe should additional plows go by while they're playing.
Bemidijians also should take note of the city's calendar parking ordinance, which helps snowplow drivers remove snow more completely from each street.
Pioneer staff reporters Crystal Dey and Zach Kayser, as well as wire services, contributed to this report.