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Snow totals for Hubbard County are still up in the air

Totals from Monday and Tuesday’s blizzard are still coming into the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

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<br/><br/>A skid steer pushes a load of snow into the path of a wheel loader Tuesday on the Frank White Education Center parking lot, off Huntsinger Avenue in Park Rapids.<br/>Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise<br/><br/>
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise<br/>

While the blizzard Monday and Tuesday was not as intense as the one that blew through on Friday, leading to early dismissals of school and some road closures, area schools went to e-learning again Tuesday to give drivers time to clear the roads for buses to pick up students for school Wednesday.

NWS meteorologist Nathan Rick said, so far, only two reports have come in from the Park Rapids area. A public reporting entity 15 miles north of Park Rapids, near Two Inlets, shows a two-day total of 6.2 inches for Monday and Tuesday combined and 22.5 inches since Jan. 1, while a report from Sebeka shows 7 inches total for Monday and Tuesday and 26.9 inches of snow since Jan. 1. Reports from Menahga, Park Rapids and Wadena were not available.

Rick said strong winds make measuring snow totals tricky.

“Snow totals can vary from area to area, so it’s possible some towns in the area saw more or less snow, but the reports just aren't available,” he said. “In lakes country, when we have that northwest wind, you can see disparities in snowfall, too. When winds go across the lakes they pick up moisture that is added to the cloud and produces more snow in certain areas.”

Rick said the strong winds we saw in the two most recent storms are due to the track of the storms and how they moved through the area.

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“It’s the gradient between low and high pressure that causes the higher winds,” he said. “Even with trees blocking that, it’s not enough to stymie that.”

Light and fluffy snow is also easily picked up by the wind. “A lot of the systems have been coming from the northwest and have been a little more moisture deprived,” he said. “That usually yields drier, fluffier snow.”

The moisture content of this type of snow is also lower, having less impact on the drought.

Rick said models predict the La Nina pattern is expected to continue through the spring with a neutral zone predicted for summer.

“That means for the rest of the winter we can expect frequent 1-4 inch snowfalls with cold and wind behind it,” he said.

Scott Burlingame is public works superintendent for the city of Park Rapids. He said a crew of eight cleaned up what he estimates was 6 to 8 inches of snow total, explaining drifting snow makes it difficult to get an exact measurement.

“It wasn’t different from any other snowfall except for the wind,” he said. “We plow primarily at night until it’s cleaned up and it took two nights. We’ve got plenty of snow. We don’t need any more. Piles are getting tall and it’s hard to push them back and everyone’s having trouble with the mailboxes. On the streets when you can’t push the snow back any more streets get narrower. It’s a drag for sure. But it’s the cold more than anything that’s getting old.”

Reid Watson is Akeley’s public works supervisor. “I think we got about 5 inches of snow Monday and Tuesday,” he said. “”I went in at 3 a.m. Monday and tried to get as much done as I could before businesses opened and people were out and about. It’s probably a 10-hour day plowing after a snow and then touch ups the next day. We go around the fire hydrants as soon as we can. Some people don’t have parking so they park in alleys. We go back and plow once their car is gone. Herb Young helps with the plowing and police chief Jimmy Hansen helps out when I need him. When I do Main Street, I make big piles and MnDOT hauls it away for us. We’ve got a spot on the east end of town where they stockpile the snow. It’s got to be 12 feet tall by 50 feet thick by 400 feet long.”

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He said everyone who plows is looking forward to spring. “We’re running out of room to push the snow on residential streets,” he said. “It’s time to take out the front end loader again and push back the snow so people can see at intersections. That all takes time. The snow’s just got to end.“

Related Topics: WEATHER
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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