Ben Stark, Staff Writer
A foot of snow and stranded motorists are nothing new for Minnesotans, just like how shoveling out cars and cancelled classes are not new for Augsburg students. However, the timing is. Last weekend’s blizzard broke new records in the Metro area. The total snowfall, 15.9 inches, was the largest recorded snowfall in April in Minnesota history. The previous record holder was a storm in 1983 which dropped 13.6 inches across the area. The storm also made this year the snowiest start of the calendar year.
Overcast skies on the previous Friday morning became rain by 2 p.m. Around 4 p.m., a heavy system of hail came through the area. Snow and strong winds followed after that without stopping. By midnight on Friday, snow plows were struggling to keep the interstates clear. On Saturday, the snow continued to fall. Many cars stalled out in the accumulating snow. Strangers came together to push stranded drivers out of ditches and drifts. April looked like January, and the snow continued on Sunday. Power outages were reported around the state, canceling proms and other events.
Over 600 vehicle crashes were reported statewide. As of last Sunday, 1,058 spinouts and 20 jackknifed trailers were reported to the Minnesota State Patrol. My car was one of the many unreported spinouts, and AAA had suspended all towing and roadside assistance on Saturday night. So early Sunday morning I shoveled my car out of a ditch in blizzard conditions.
Everyone had plenty of adventures to share. I swapped stories with Mike, a guy waiting for takeout at the Free House restaurant on Washington, and we relived our big moments over the weekend. Mike had pushed seven Uber drivers out of the snow. Uber offers higher rates to drivers in bad weather, but obviously their cars could not handle the elements. Mike had even seen a snow plow stalled out in Uptown. One of the beautiful aspects of any big storm are the human encounters during. Everyone pitched in to help one another.
Minneapolis and St. Paul both declared snow emergencies. This pulled residents out of their homes to frantically shovel out their cars before traffic police or tow trucks arrived. Buried cars and ticket-happy traffic police added to the end-of-semester stress. On Monday night, the Minneapolis impound lot reported 570 towed cars, compared to zero in St. Paul. Maybe they have better parking signs there.
It seems weird to talk about graduation and summer vacation during a cold April. After this weekend, it might be tempting to plan an exotic getaway, but don’t take the bait. Historically, cold Aprils have not led to cold summers. Save the tropical trip for next winter.
This article first appeared in the Friday, April 20 edition of The Echo.