Snow storm buries St. Croix CountyA huge winter snowstorm dumped upwards of a foot of snow on western Wisconsin Saturday night and all through Sunday.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
A huge winter snowstorm dumped more than 15 inches of snow in many parts of western Wisconsin Saturday night, all day Sunday and into Monday morning.
According to New Richmond Regional Airport Manager Mike Demulling, the storm total in New Richmond was 15.2 inches. Some local residents, however, reported upwards of 19 inches of snow in some locations.
“I’m extremely tired,” Demulling admitted, referring to his overnight effort to keep the airport runways open.
Piles of snow appeared everywhere on Monday as people tried to shovel out.
Roads throughout the St. Croix County area were snow covered Monday. In quite a few stretches, the roadways were washboarded, making traveling very difficult. Many town roads had yet to be cleared.
Schools were closed all throughout the region, including New Richmond Schools, St. Croix Central, Somerset, Amery, Osceola, Baldwin-Woodville and more.
Snowplow crews were out over the weekend and on Monday making the roads safer for travel.
In New Richmond, Street Superintendent Dan Koski said there were no big issues related to storm clean-up. A couple of times plow trucks were stuck in the snow and had to be pulled out by the city’s end loader.
Crews worked a few hours on Saturday, but then put in more than 11 hours on Sunday. The crews put in another 14 hours or so on Monday and expected to be out several more hours Tuesday.
The plowing operation went as well as could be expected, he said.
“We had to concentrate on keeping the main roads open, so some of the residential areas had to wait until we could get to them,” Koski reported.
According to Tim Ramberg, St. Croix County highway superintendent, snowplows were out in force to battle the mounting snow. He measured 15 inches near Hudson.
Some snowplowing took place on Saturday, Dec. 8, but the full crew was out at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning. The crews went out again around noon Sunday to clear off the additional accumulation.
Trucks were back on the road at 3 a.m. Monday morning.
“It came so hard and so fast, we couldn’t stay in front of it,” said Randy Gunderson, patrol superintendent.
He said the crews can’t run 24-hours-a-day, so the strategy is to clear snow just ahead of heavy traffic times. That’s why the trucks often stop operating by 10 p.m. and are dispatched back to the roads early the next morning.
Gunderson said crews will continue to cut through the rough roads and clear intersections and cul-de-sacs the rest of the week. But county officials hope the sun will do much of the hard work in the next few days.
“The sun is our best help right now,” he said.
As the snow piled up in the northwest part of Wisconsin, so did the number of vehicles in ditches along the highways.
In St. Croix County, Chief Deputy Scott Knudson said there were three injury accidents, 20 total accidents, 80 vehicles in the ditch and 20 disabled vehicles over the two full days of snow.
Emergency crews encountered only a few problems getting to accidents or stranded motorists, he said.
“Slowly but surely we got there,” he said.
On Sunday, Northwest Region State Patrol troopers responded to nearly 160 run-offs, including 17 property damage crashes and a total of four injury related crashes.
“In comparison to past snow snowstorms, this is an average number of responses for our officers,” said State Patrol Commander Jeffrey Frenette. “However, that is still a significant number of vehicles that need attending to. It is important for motorists to pay attention to weather forecasts and plan their trips accordingly, and in some cases that may mean just staying home.”
Many of the vehicles were left until the storm subsided and some are still being removed Monday.
Early weather forecasts are predicting another storm next weekend with measurable snow. Travelers are encouraged to check winter road conditions before leaving home by calling 5-1-1 or visiting 511wi.gov.