The Wright County Highway Department is currently in the “calm before the storm” stage of preparation for what may end up being the biggest winter storm of the season to date. Wright County is included in a Winter Storm Warning area that will run through Tuesday night.
“This one has the makings a being a pretty big event that lasts for 48 hours,” Highway Maintenance Supervisor Nate Helgeson said. “The current forecast is showing that, by Tuesday night, Cokato will have seven to eight inches, the Buffalo-St. Michael area will have eight inches and up by Clearwater we could see nine to 10 inches. There are different forecasts out there, but all of them have us getting somewhere between seven and 12 inches in all parts of the county.”
The heaviest bands of snow Monday are currently expected to stay north of Wright County, with areas in between St. Cloud and Brainerd potentially seeing 14-16 inches of snow or more before the storm system finally clears out late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Snow is expected to begin during the morning commute early Monday with three to six inches expected from that part of the system. But that will only be a part of the problem.
“This is looking like two storms one on top of the other,” Helgeson said. “Right now, the storm Monday looks like the heaviest snow will stay north of us. We’re still looking at getting some significant snow, but the highest totals look like they will be north of us. On Tuesday, the snow is expected to be a lot more widespread and covering a lot more of the state. The projection is we will get hit pretty hard by both of them.”
Highway Department crews will be out Monday morning and will potentially have crews working almost non-stop over the next 48 hours. While temperatures were hovering around freezing at 6 p.m. Sunday, Monday morning temperatures will fall into the low-teens with single-digit highs Tuesday falling below zero Tuesday night. Helgeson said the first issue will be clearing snow, but the second issue will be in open spaces.
“The biggest problem our crews are going to be facing is wind,” Helgeson said. “Winds are expected to be about 20 miles per hour. We ask people on the road to be patient with us because this one is going to be a long snow event and, with the winds, it will impact our ability to salt and there will be blowing and drifting. Hopefully by Wednesday morning, we will have everything covered and should be good to go.”