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Fillmore County cleans up after February 20-21 blizzard

By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Feb 28th, 2014
Posted in All Features

Fillmore County saw one of the worst winter storms in years February 20-21, 2014. Pictured above is 331st Avenue 2.5 miles NE of Harmony. Photo submited by Jo Paulson Stamer

If you were at work on the morning of Thursday, February 20, you probably looked out your window a few times anticipating to see the snow flakes flying. Though the winter storm that hit the area didn’t get underway until roughly 2 p.m. in Fillmore County that day, when it finally arrived it made its presence known.

Large, heavy snowflakes began to fall at rates as fast as two inches per hour. Due to warmer temperatures the snow had a dense consistency that accumulated quickly, depleting road conditions as fast as plows could keep up.

By Thursday at 4:40 p.m., the Minnesota Department of Transportation released a No Travel Advisory in southeastern Minnesota as driving conditions were considered difficult. Motorists faced blowing snow, icy patches, and reduced visibility.

From there, the storm had only gotten started. On Thursday evening into Friday morning winds ramped up to 50 mph in locations. In addition to the numerous inches of snow, drifting made numerous roads impassable. MnDOT and the Minnesota State Patrol closed several major highways due to cars being stalled and lanes being blocked by drifts measuring several feet high.

Every school in the county was closed Thursday and Friday. The accumulated snow posed problems even after snowfall and winds subsided. Stranded cars and massive drifts created mobility problems for plow drivers in addition to the hardened, compacted ice and snow on roadways. Another problem was snow removal, as space is limited for placing any additional snow.

From a statement from the Minnesota State Patrol, between Thursday, February 20 through 3:30 p.m. on Friday, February 21, 284 vehicles were reported to have been off roadways within the Rochester Minnesota State Patrol District. Forty-nine were recorded as property damage crashes, nine of which were rollovers. Two of the accidents had reported injuries.

Tri-County Electric Cooperative began seeing customers with power outages on Thursday afteroon. As early as 2:30 p.m. 33 power outages were recorded, affecting 1,269 customers, many of which had to spend the overnight hours without power until crews could regroup on Friday morning. All power was reported to have been restored by 11:20 a.m. on Friday.

Estimated Snowfall Totals from 2/20 -2/21

Spring Valley: 10.7 inches

Cherry Grove: 5.5 inches

Lanesboro: 4.5 inches

Preston: 4.3 inches

Peterson: 3 inches

Highland: 2.8 inches

Mabel: 1.0 inch

Spring Grove: 2.8 inches

Peak Wind Gusts

Canton: 43 mph

Fillmore County Airport: 37 mph

Lanesboro: 29 mph

Houston Co./Mound Prairie: 25 mph

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