BEMIDJI – When the region gets buried in snow, the effects can be felt for days.
In the days after the recent snowstorm, five city employees have been plowing 80 miles of streets, not counting alleyways, in an attempt to clear the 16 inches of snow that fell on Bemidji.
“There are a lot of alleys that we haven’t gotten to yet,” said Craig Gray, the city engineer. “(We’re) just asking everybody to be patient. We’re going to get there, but we can only work 12 hours a day and then we have to send the guys home.”
Plows hit the streets at 2 a.m. Monday and stopped at 3 p.m. that day, Gray said. They started up again at midnight Monday and then went home by mid-morning Tuesday. They planned to back on the streets at midnight Tuesday.
“For a snowfall of this magnitude, it takes quite a while,” Gray said. “We have to get the streets opened first.”
He said the city hires some contractors to help haul the snow to a couple dump sites.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is responsible for plowing state highways, and businesses have to find ways to plow their own parking lots.
Another effect of a large amount of snowfall is ice dams, which could be seen on buildings and homes across the city.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension office, ice dams are “a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof.”
“The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home causing damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation.”
Mike Miller, the building official with the city of Bemidji, said they hadn’t received many calls about ice dams or issues with roofs as of Tuesday morning. He said new advances in construction and how buildings are insulated can help prevent them.
The extension office says snow can be removed from roofs to prevent ice dams.
“This eliminates one of the ingredients necessary for the formation of an ice dam,” its website reads. But it warns that professionals should be used due to the danger of working on a roof in the winter.
If water begins leaking into the building, making channels by hosing tap water on the ice dam would allow water to flow off the roof, the office says.