Owatonna cleans up nearly a foot and a half of snow - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Owatonna cleans up nearly a foot and a half of snow


Monday's winter storm was the heaviest in southeastern Minnesota so far this season.  Areas to the north and west of Rochester were hit the hardest. 

Owatonna was quite the sight to see Tuesday afternoon; yards piled high with snow and the road medians turned into frozen walls waiting to be removed.

"We got 17 inches of snow," said Samuel Waterbury, a snow remover. "It's just tough with both the snow blower and a shovel."

Monday's storm brought over a foot and a half of snow to Owatonna.

Residents spent Tuesday digging out and gave their snow blowers quite the workout.

"Well we've been shoveling snow since about 5 o'clock in the morning," said Waterbury. "We've been going to businesses and this is about our fourth or fifth job and it's taken us a lot longer than we both expected."

City workers were also busy clearing snow filled streets and medians.

One unlucky driver found herself stuck. Fortunately some nearby snow removers stopped to come and help.

"If you're there, you're there, you gotta help," said Waterbury. "You know, it's kind of a nice thing. I've been stuck before and it just sucks doing it by yourself."

By midday Tuesday, areas along Interstate 35 were still seeing that snow and ice on the pavement. Travel was slow, but the sun was hard at work melting the ice.

"People have to remain patient," said Mike Dougherty, MnDOT Public Affairs Coordinator. "I know they want to get out there and drive as fast as they can, but the folks that are doing that are often ending up in the ditch. People that are driving at a slower rate, they're getting to their destination fine; maybe just a little slower than they normally would."

Early Tuesday afternoon, a MnDOT plow was using an ice breaker, followed by a grader, to loosen the compacted ice and snow on southbound I-35.

"What it does, is it's got these carbide tips and it rolls," said Dougherty. "It's like a steam roller on the front but it's got those tips and it just puts little pock marks in the ice. Then they can scrape it with their underbody blade or a grader."

As it turns out, the idea for the ice breaker came to MnDOT from the Alaska department of transportation, where they see more ice related problems.

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