(Waseca, MN) – A number of roads remain closed in southern Minnesota as the region begins to dig out of Sunday’s blizzard.
Officials reported in Waseca County that roads are still impassable, and the county highways will be closed to travel until 10 a.m. In a post on Facebook, the sheriff’s department said plow routes take about six hours to complete on a normal day of snowfall. “This hard packed snow could more than double route times,” Waseca officials posted. “They are estimating it may take all of today just to get a single lane open on each route for travel.” Travel in the county was so precarious that the sheriff’s office had issued a “shelter-in-place” warning late Sunday afternoon.
Law enforcement in both counties said stranded vehicles would be a factor in plowing times. “There are cars stuck everywhere and in the middle of the road that will also slow and hinder road clearing efforts,” said Waseca County’s Facebook post.
In Blue Earth County, plows were sent out between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. The sheriff asked for drivers to avoid travel and to use the Minnesota Department of Transportation 511 site to check current road conditions. “It will take several hours to get the roads clear because we will need to remove vehicles as we go.”
There were numerous reports of stranded vehicles and impassable drifting on roads all around the region. On Saturday night, the Minnesota National Guard was called out to rescue stranded motorists in Freeborn and Steele counties. The Owatonna and Albert Lea armories housed over 200 people overnight.
On Highway 14 between Courtland and Nicollet, a Mankato man captured video of multiple vehicles stranded in drifts in whiteout conditions. Nicollet County pulled its plows and closed county roads until visibility improved.
In Watonwan County, every road in the county was closed, which led to the number one-ranked St. Cloud Huskies hockey team spending the night in the county jail after their bus became stranded on a county road. The team was rescued by a snow plow and the county sheriff.
For residents already weary of the relentless winter weather, relief is nowhere in sight. Temperatures will remain below freezing for the week. Small accumulations of snow are expected between today and tomorrow, with possibilities for more snow on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Another round of snow is likely Friday, with blustery conditions overnight into Saturday.