Winter simply refuses to make an exit as the Wadena area was blanketed with up to 6-9 inches of snow earlier this week.
Monday and Tuesday saw a storm move in from the Pacific Northwest that reached its peak intensity in the hours before dawn Tuesday, when visibility was under a mile, said AccuWeather Meteorologist Bill Deger.
Deger said the decreased visibility combined with accumulation on the roads caused a safety hazard to drivers. However, he also said the Wadena area escaped the brunt of the storm’s snowfall as it moved eastward across the country.
“I saw some reports of 1-2 feet from northern Montana into parts of North Dakota,” Deger said. “Even far northwestern Minnesota looks like they got close to a foot of snow as well.”
Accident and injury data provided by local authorities seemed to reinforce the notion that the worst part of the storm missed the Wadena area. The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office reported no storm-related auto accidents as of Tuesday morning. Tri-County Health Care Communications Specialist Jil Fiemeyer said Tuesday afternoon that the five TCHC locations had seen seven people treated for weather-related injuries experienced during the storm.
However, weather related incidents appeared more prevalent outside of Wadena County. In Todd County, Sheriff Pete Mikkelson reported approximately four vehicles in the ditch, as well as one additional accident Tuesday morning that could not be confirmed as weather-related. Also on Tuesday, Captain Bruce Hentges of the Minnesota State Patrol reported 42 crashes and 35 ditched vehicles since Sunday in District 2900, which includes Wadena County, the northern part of Todd County and eight other counties.
“If you get that many crashes in a day and a half, it’s due to the weather, it’s due to the storm that came through,” he said.
Hentges offered some tips on safe driving in bad winter weather: don’t drive unless necessary, adapt your speed to suit conditions and do not by any means use cruise control, even when slippery patches are scattered.
“If you hit ice, you’re totally out of control with cruise control,” Hentges said.
Deger said Tuesday that our area may see a second, milder storm this weekend, which could involve a mixture of rain and snow starting. Although Deger expected any weekend weather would be lighter than that of earlier this week.
“Any accumulations look light, if we were to see any snow,” Deger said. “It really doesn’t have the same punch as the last storm.”