5/9/2013 10:50:00 AM Winter delivers a big parting shot
by Ken Haggerty
The winter that wouldn't end delivered a heck of a parting shot to the Cannon Falls area from May 1 to May 3, with a record big punch of about a foot of heavy wet snow falling late on May 1 into the morning of May 2.
Many in the area awoke on Thursday, May 2, to no power, branches that broke due to the heavy snow, closed roads, closed schools and even some collapsed roofs on some older sheds.
Goodhue County Cooperative Electric, which has about 5,000 customers had about 2,185 out of power Thursday morning.
"Pretty much the whole County got hit, so it made for a long three days of repairs," said Goodhue Electric's Doug Fingerson. Most outages were caused by branches down on lines, although a few poles did go down.
Dakota Electric reported about 1,000 without service, mainly from Hastings south and toward Cannon Falls and Red Wing. North of Hastings, snow totals dropped off in a hurry, with absolutely none in St. Paul and Minneapolis until Friday. Dakota Electric had lines and poles down in multiple places in Douglas and Cannon Falls Townships. They had about half the outages restored by noon and had about 150 still out by 5 p.m.
Many Township roads were unplowed late into Thursday morning, many County Roads had only one lane opened up, which made making repairs difficult and travel was not advised in SE MN by MnDOT.
Hwy. 52 was closed south of Cannon Falls for a short while Thursday morning due to multiple crashes, stuck vehicles, and jackknifed semis, reports MnDOT's Kristin Kammueller. Hwy. 60 and Hwy. 58 also saw brief closures. The Cannonball, Saratoga Inn and McDonald's parking lots were packed at about 7:30 a.m. with drivers who had gotten off the roads.
The State Patrol reported 192 vehicles off the road in southeastern Minnesota from May 1 to May 3, 50 property damage crashes and 10 injury crashes.
In Cannon Falls, a semi pulling a double trailer was stuck on the uphill 4th Street south of downtown until about 8 a.m., causing a traffic slowdown.
The Cannon Falls ambulance and fire department had their hands more than full starting at about 3 a.m. Thursday morning for about six hours straight. Mike Althoff said the fire department had six different calls for reports of power lines down. Power surges caused smoke in some homes, prompting calls of concerns until the smoke ventilated.
Althoff said an ambulance call to the Vasa area took about an hour, normally maybe a 10 minute trip. The ambulance had to wait for County and local help to clear roads. The closed Hwy. 52 southbound lanes meant the hospital was told they would have to send any emergency transports north until roads improved.
The good news is the snow stopped mid-morning Thursday and drifting was limited with no significant winds. Temperatures warmed to near 40 by noon, allowing plow crews to get ahead of the snow before another lighter snowfall on Friday morning.
A city wide garage sale on Saturday saw many cancellations as residents dealt with no power and downed branches. The number of shoppers was way down, as many decided to stay home rather than go out in snow and cold.
By Sunday, temperatures had gone from 30 to 70 and most of the record snowfall had disappeared.