Archived Story

Burst pipes prompt closings

Published 7:45am Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Burst pipes prompted Albert Lea school officials to cancel classes for today.

Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk said the damage is at Lakeview Elementary School and Brookside Education Center.

“With the forecast still questionable in the a.m., and to provide time to clean up, particularly at Lakeview, we will remain closed,” Funk said on Monday evening.

All schools in Minnesota were closed Monday, by order of Gov. Mark Dayton. Many northern Iowa schools were shut down, too.

Today, Albert Lea, Austin, Blooming Prairie, Glenville-Emmons, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva and Owatonna were closed, and Head Start, St. Theodore Catholic, Hollandale Christian and United Preschool classes have been called off.

Lake Mills, Alden-Conger and Northwood-Kensett were two hours late today.

The Tribune also has received reports about pipes bursting at Shopko and inside the former Walmart building.

Northbridge Mall Property Manager Barb Fate said a sprinkler burst at Shopko, 2610 Bridge Ave., early this morning, causing water damage throughout the store and into the Northbridge Mall.

Fate said the water traveled out the store and stopped near the Unbridled Boutique in the mall.

Carpet cleaners came shortly after, cleaning up the water so the mall would be ready for customers today. She was unsure of the extent of the damage at Shopko.

Former Walmart property manager Robert Hoffman said some of the interior of the building was covered in ice and water.

Freeborn County and much of Minnesota remained in a wind chill advisory this morning. The National Weather Service had it set to end at noon today. The expected high today in Albert Lea was 3 degrees and a low tonight of 15 below zero. Scattered flurries were expected midday.

Wednesday looks to be cold, too. The weather service places the high at 3 and the overnight low at 8 below. It says Thursday should reach a balmy 17 degrees. The low that night is forecast at 15 degrees — above zero.

So how cold did it get in Albert Lea on Sunday and Monday?

Monday was colder than Sunday. Automated readings at the Albert Lea Municipal Airport said the air temperature reached 22 below zero around 7 a.m. Monday. The warmest the outdoors got on Monday was 11 below.

No records appear to be broken, though the official records lie not with the airport, but with the observed temperatures at the municipal wastewater treatment plant. The all-time low for Albert Lea on Jan. 6 was 34 below, and the lowest high in Albert Lea on that day was 16 below.

Observed temperatures means a person actually looks at a thermometer, while automated means a machine records the temperature, usually every 20 minutes or so. The automated recordings at the airport is what appears on cellphones and websites.

The automated station at the airport said the wind chill on Monday reached 43 below a couple of times, first at 6:50 a.m. and then at 11:10 a.m. The wind the first time was recorded as 12 mph out of the northwest with gusts of 22 mph. The second time was 17 mph directly out of the west with gusts of 25 mph.

The airport station said the air temperature on Sunday dipped down to 18 below by the final hour of the day. Most of the day was between 2 and 6 below, as the frigid air mass arrived later than forecast. Weather experts had called for it to show up Saturday night, but the deep freeze came Sunday night instead.

Temperatures this morning were looking better. Midnight began at 11 below, then 9 below by 4:30 a.m. At 7 a.m., the mercury was at 8 below, with a 5 mph wind out of the southwest.