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Continued: Waiting for winter to show some mercy? Keep waiting

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 26, 2014 - 2:55 PM

Total snowfall this winter in the Twin Cities stands at 57.2 inches, slightly more than what’s normal for an entire season. “Normal” is based on the winters from 1981-2010. And it’s far more than the 47-inch long-term average, covering the last 129 winters.

The cold also will stick around. Lows Wednesday through Saturday nights are predicted to remain below zero, with highs only in the single digits Thursday through Saturday.

Body blows, mail woes

Body shops have been kept busy since last week, due to all the cars that haven’t been able to avoid ice or each other since the heavy snow.

At Heppner’s Auto Body in St. Paul, workers drew up 19 repair estimates Monday — an unusually heavy load, said estimator Jon Martens.

Most of the jobs involved typical collision damage — front-end wrinkles, torn-off bumpers, dented fenders, smashed headlights and hoods.

But some were the result of damage from ice flying off the roofs of semitrailers and into windshields, he said.

Meantime, the Postal Service’s unofficial maxim that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” stops the mail is being put to the test.

Postal Service spokesman Pete Nowacki acknowledged that some mail isn’t getting delivered because snowbanks have covered mailboxes or left them unreachable.

He asked that customers with street- or roadside mailboxes clear a 12-foot-long access for mail carriers.

“Nobody likes this situation,” he said. “We tell [carriers] to use their own judgment. We also tell them, ‘Don’t go crawling up snowbanks to put mail in boxes. It just isn’t safe.’ ”

Counting on the sun

Road officials said that the time of year has complicated their approach to dealing with the deep snow and ice.

In Eagan, transportation operations engineer Tim Plath said that because there’s so little room for snow on roadsides — the banks are higher than the plow blades — huge volumes are falling into the only remaining open spaces.

“From the residents’ standpoint, they’re getting a lot more snow in their driveways, but we’re not doing anything different with our plowing,” Plath said.

Even though Wednesday’s predicted high in the Twin Cities is 17, pavement temperatures could reach the mid-20s in exposed areas, he said. But Plath said his department is continuing to attack busy thoroughfares with treated salt and sand.

“The saving grace in all this is that late-February, early-March sun,” he said. “If this were December, it would be ugly.”

Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kent Barnard agreed that nature will be the sure, if slow, solution for the state’s icy roads.

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