A holiday storm on iceThe white Christmas many in the area hoped for arrived last week, but probably not the way people wanted it to as more than 20 inches of snow fell from Thursday, Christmas Eve, into Saturday.
By: Matt Suoja, Lake County News Chronicle
The white Christmas many in the area hoped for arrived last week, but probably not the way people wanted it to as more than 20 inches of snow fell from Thursday, Christmas Eve, into Saturday.
Officially, 24 inches of snow hit the Two Harbors area.
The storm came in two waves, with a lull midday on Christmas after more than 12 inches of fluffy snow fell. The second wave was a wet kiss of 12 more inches that locked the region in a pack of hard snow that is proving difficult to clear out.
Snow totals were less up the North Shore and inland from Lake Superior. Silver Bay had 14 inches while Isabella reported 9 and Ely 2.
Streets in Two Harbors and along more remote rural roads have been covered in ice while piles of snow linger on many boulevards.
Al Goodman, Lake County’s highway engineer, said curves and intersections are being sanded for safety but that’s about all that can be done. Temperatures this weekend are expected to remain frigid.
Gravel roads are another problem for the county as they can only be taken care of when the weather gets warmer and allows scraping.
Rural roads remain icy, as was shown early in the afternoon Monday when a car collided with a logging truck on Hefflefinger Road west of Finland as both slid in trying to make room for each other. The drivers were sent to Lake View Memorial Hospital and released later in the day.
There were a few cars in ditches over the long holiday weekend but no major accidents, Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson said. He said the state and county crews did a “heck of good job” keeping roads clear.
Goodman said the county had lots of its plow employees out on overtime during the three days of snow. “Our guys did a really good job tackling it,” he said.
Larry Fabini, who works in the street department for the city, said the storm was an unusual event. “There’s not a lot we can do (about the ice),” he said.
“It’s a weird snow; it’s tough to deal with,” Fabini said. There are plans for snow removal in the area, but it will wait until sidewalks and other vital areas are cleared.
Any snow is good for the winter economy in the region.
“I’m happy to see it,” said Nathan Jenson, owner of Lake Superior Custom Builders and Contracting, which does private snow plowing. He said he ended up breaking some equipment because all of the now frozen wet snow. “I’ve never seen it like this,” he said.
At Beaver Bay Sport Shop, snowmobiling fever is catching on in time to stem some losses from the lingering economic woes hitting across the country. “Of course, we’re trying to salvage as much as we can (for the business),” said Michael Wartman, the owner of the store. The business rents snowmobiles and they’ve been booked solid but people haven’t been able to use them, he said. Trails were expected to be groomed this week.
“We had sales throughout the whole summer on snowmobiles,” Wartman said. They have also sold six snowmobiles since the snow began last week.
Wartman is not only happy for his business, but others as well. “The whole community needed it,” he said.
Cross country ski trails are open but conditions are likely very icy on most of the popular trails.
Bob Olund, the owner of Two Harbors True Value hardware store, said he’s sold a lot of shovels, brushes and sand bags along with the various items that go along with winter weather. “A change of weather in our business helps dramatically,” he said.
Faron Meeks, co-owner of Julie’s Variety & Hardware in Silver Bay said he’s seen a lot of snow and ice removal items go as well, though with the timing around Christmas, it was hard to tell if it was a reaction to the weather or simply gift buying.