The anticipated pre-Christmas storm that is bearing down on Wright County has been delayed from earlier projections, but it is coming and the potential snowfall totals have been ramped up.
Wright County is under a blizzard warning until late in the evening. The snow is expected to start falling somewhere between 10 and 11 a.m. with accumulating snow coming quickly and the height of the storm expected around 3 p.m.
Wright County Highway Maintenance Supervisor Steve Meyer is warning motorists that Highway Department trucks will likely be out on the roads about noon and will be clearing roads until approximately 7 p.m.
“It looks like the start time has been pushed back a little bit and they’ve enhanced the snow total,” Meyer said. “According to Weather Underground, they’re saying 6.2 inches of snow for Wright County. What we’ve been seeing consistently over the last several hours is three to six inches of snow coming out of this and it is expected to move through pretty quickly as far as storms go.”
The initial concerns for highway maintenance staff was that the storms were going to hit earlier this morning, when temperatures were above freezing and the potential for rain, freezing rain and sleet were in the forecast. By all appearances, this weather event will be all snow, which is a positive for those tasked with clearing the roads.
“The best news we’ve got with the updates is that there isn’t supposed to be any rain,” Meyer said. “That was our biggest concern. The rain part of the storm is expected to go east of us, which is good news for us. The biggest issue is going to be the wind that will reduce visibility considerably.”
Meyer said he has one crew on duty and they’re spending their time this morning loading up their plows with salt to combat the storm. They will be plowing until about 7 p.m. and then they will be sent home. The crew will be back to plowing at 2 a.m. to get all roads cleared before the morning commute on Christmas Eve.
However, he said even if the storm rolls through faster than expected, the most significant problem will be the wind associated with the storm that will cause whiteout conditions at times during the storm and lead to accumulation and drifting on open stretches of road in the county.
“The wind is going to be the biggest issue with this storm,” Meyer said. “We’re seeing projections of sustained winds of 25 to 30 miles per hour and gusts higher than that. That’s going to make the evening commute pretty ugly. We want people to be aware that our trucks will be out and, while it may slow things down, we ask that people give the drivers room to do their job and get the roads cleared as well as we can under the circumstances.”