Paulette Trimble shovels show off the hood of her car this morning on Pillsbury Avenue in Albert Lea. She said she was surprised at how much snow fell and in May, no less. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune
Paulette Trimble shovels show off the hood of her car this morning on Pillsbury Avenue in Albert Lea. She said she was surprised at how much snow fell and in May, no less. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Storm dumps a foot of snow; thousands lose power

Published 6:08am Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nearly 3,000 customers of Alliant Energy were without power this morning in Freeborn County.

Almost 400 Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services customers in Freeborn and Mower counties were without power, too.

Lines hang low on Johnson Street. In the distance, a city snowplow turns onto a side street. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune
Lines hang low on Johnson Street. In the distance, a city snowplow turns onto a side street. — Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

The power outages come in the wake of a snowstorm that delivered a foot of heavy snow overnight and brought power, cable and phone lines down or low. Power lines and tree branches are down all over Albert Lea. Some power poles fell, too. Snow shovelers could hear trees cracking. They would look around to see which tree was making the sound.

Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels said as of 9 a.m. today no injuries or fires had been caused by downed wires or branches. He noted the north side of Albert Lea seemed to be more heavily hit with downed trees.

“Some places look like the tornado all over again,” Winkels said. “We’re having to weave around branches and trees in the road.”

A mallard duck stands in deep snow and watches traffic go by on Bridge Avenue this morning in Albert Lea. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune
A mallard duck stands in deep snow and watches traffic go by on Bridge Avenue this morning in Albert Lea. — Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

The Alliant Energy power outage website, as of 6 a.m., said 2,982 customers were without power in Freeborn County. By 8 a.m., the number was down to 1,004. By 9:30 a.m., it was up to 2,696. The provider serves 12,335 customers in the county.

At 5 a.m., the Alliant Energy website said 1,335 customers in Freeborn County were out of power, but by 5:15 a.m., it had risen to 2,556.

Freeborn-Mower reported 196 without power at 6 a.m. By 8 a.m., the figure rose to 390. By 9:30 a.m., it was 542. It serves 5,969 in its two-county area. Most of its outages were in Freeborn County.

Families got up early this morning to clear driveways and walkways before getting ready to go to work. Many schools have canceled classes. Albert Lea Schools, St.Theodore Catholic School and Hollandale Christian School closed.

Glenville-Emmons, Alden-Conger, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, Northwood-Kensett Schools, Lake Mills, United South Central, Riverland Community College, the Albert Lea Family Y, The Children’s Center and many area businesses closed for the day.

The closings and delays come as the area received multiple inches of snow, and MnDOT is not advising travel.

Roads were slushy and slippery. Snowplow crews were out clearing streets and highways. The Minnesota Department of Transportation advises against travel in Freeborn County and in counties to its north.

Freeborn County and its vicinity remain in a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service. The warning is in effect until 1 p.m. Thursday. It said the heaviest totals accumulated on line from Albert Lea to Owatonna to Hastings. Owatonna reported receiving 13 inches. Albert Lea about 12 inches. Hastings reported 13 inches. Stillwater reported 14 inches. Snowfall totals drop off severely on either side of the line. Austin reported 4 1/2 inches. Fairmont had 1 1/2 inches.

The weather service said snowstorms in May are rare. The observed high temperature in Albert Lea for May 2, 2012, was 72 degrees.

The forecast high for Thursday is 35 degrees. More snow is expected to fall before 1 p.m. The morning calm is forecast to turn into a 15 mph north wind, with gusts up to 25. More snow, about an inch, is forecast for Thursday night, with an overnight low of 30 degrees.

Skies are expected to deliver about an half inch of snow Friday morning, and that will turn to rain in the afternoon, the National Weather Service forecast says.

Students in more than 30 school districts are enjoying a rare snow day in May, while utility crews went to work early Thursday to restore power to more than 20,000 Xcel Energy customers.

The storm largely missed the Twin Cities, where only some eastern and southeastern suburbs got clipped.

 

To the west

DENVER (AP) — People in parts of Colorado and Wyoming pulled puffy jackets, hats and umbrellas out of the closet again Wednesday for another round of wet spring snow.

The May Day snow storm was making travel difficult on some Colorado highways, where several crashes were reported late Wednesday, and along Interstate 80 in southeastern Wyoming. Denver’s airport reported about 50 flight cancellations, and other flights were delayed for de-icing.

By midday, more than a foot of snow had fallen at Rocky Mountain National Park. The heavy snow caused power and heat outages there and in Cheyenne, which received 15 inches of snow by noon Wednesday. West of Cheyenne, 20 inches fell near Buford, while Casper saw 4 inches of snow.

South Dakota’s largest city, Sioux Falls, got its first May snowfall in 37 years. The city received 1.5 inches of snow by late morning.

A winter storm warning was also in effect for parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Snow fell in parts of Nebraska, and western Iowa was expecting snow between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The storm is welcome in Colorado and Wyoming because it boosts the snowpack that provides the region’s water supply. Both states are in a drought but have benefited from several rounds of spring snow.

About 5 inches were forecast for Denver, where the snow was making the roads a sloppy mess.

The snow wasn’t sticking much to the pavement, still warm after recent temperatures in the 70s, but it clung to grassy areas and flowers.

Denver native Chris Lujan said he’s never worn a top coat, scarf and hat on May 1 before.

Greg Notz just put his hood up and wasn’t fazed.

“I expect this. Yup. It’s better than living where it’s warm and dry and nice all the time. At least we get a variety,” he said.

Snow hits Denver in May roughly once every three years. July and August are the only months that snow hasn’t been recorded there, National Weather Service forecaster David Barjenbruch said.