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Snow, snow and more snow to come

Snow totals are up and the plow trucks seem to be out constantly in the region. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal1 / 2
Most area business need to use specialized machinery like this skid steer with a power brush attachment to keep up with the rapid snowfall. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal2 / 2

Extreme cold and snow have been an almost constant concern throughout the 2019 winter season. Many are claiming this is the harshest winter the area has seen in several years. Statistically it does appear that snow falls were milder in previous years.

The last few weeks for many have consisted of waking up extra early to clear the driveway and sidewalks only to return from work to see all that hard work destroyed by an almost constant stream of snow.

According to Wadena Public Works Director, Dan Kovar, there has been a definite increase in snow falls. His crews are keeping up, but it just seems to be a never ending cycle. As soon as one blizzard ends, another hits. Dumping inch after inch of white powder on city streets and public walkways.

In Wadena, plows take off at 3 a.m. and it takes about an 8-hour shift to fully service the entire route. It takes three plow trucks, two wheel loaders, a motor grader, two pickups equipped with plows, and a skid loader to get the job done. Everyday a small fleet of snow removal equipment keeps the roads clear for street traffic.

"We can move a lot of now in an eight-hour shift," Kovar said. After the regular shift, a seven man crew starts clearing out snow in the downtown area. This shift starts around 1 a.m. A crew will remove an estimated 60 loads of snow per truck every single night. This equals around 3,000 yards of snow per shift.

The city of Wadena budgets $122,535 annually for snow removal. Last year the Public Works Department exceeded that budgeted amount by around $5,000 - $6,000. The hard winter the Wadena area is currently experiencing will likely lead to another overture.

Darin Lillquist, an employee at Torco Power Equipment, discussed the winter season and the impact it's had on sales. Business has been good and the power equipment shop has only eight snowblowers left in their inventory. The shop has been getting frequent maintenance work as droves of people bring in their old snowblowers for repairs. Lillquist offers simple advice for owners of snowblowers during this intense winter. Try to keep the snowblower as clean as possible after every use and store it in a heated garage if possible. Maintaining the belts and doing routine fluid checks are also crucial to maintaining a piece of equipment that many take for granted until they need it most.

According to the National Weather service, snowfall totals range from 18-20 inches in our region. This is a drastic increase from previous years. In 2018 during this time of year only 5-8 inches of snow depth was reported. The snow depth has idled near that amount for the last few years until 2019.

Heavy snowfalls coupled with deadly cold generated by polar vortexes has made this a winter to remember. The forecast has more cold coming and maybe just a little more snow.

National Weather Service: Snow Depth Observations

Feb. 12, 2016

6-8 inches

Feb. 12, 2017

3-7 inches

Feb. 12, 2018

5-8 inches

Feb. 12, 2019

18-20 inches