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St. Paul plows and tows while Minneapolis lets it snow

Dozens of Minneapolis snow removal trucks stand at the ready.
MInnPost photo by Karen Boros
Dozens of Minneapolis snow removal trucks stand at the ready.

More than 1,000 cars were towed from St. Paul streets this week because they weren't moved in time during the snow emergency. But Minneapolis officials figured there wasn't enough accumulation to play the expensive snow emergency card.

How did that happen?

St Paul's threshold for calling out the plows is 3 inches. In Minneapolis it's 4 inches.

There have been other occasions when the neighboring cities aren't on the same plow page, said Dave Hunt of the St. Paul Public Works Department.

"It isn't often that one city declares and another doesn't but there are times when conditions are that different between the two cities," Hunt said. "Snow seldom falls in a uniform amount even across our city of roughly 55 square miles."

He said one storm in recent years brought six inches of snow on the west side of I-35 and only three to the east of it.

After the Tuesday/Wednesday storm, St. Paul officials went out and measured.

"We found layer of compacted snow and ice that met our threshold," Hunt said. "In many instances, we found that both the center section and the parking lanes of the residential streets had accumulations totaling 3 or more inches of snow."

If they hadn't, it could have been trouble, he said.

"If we left the accumulated snow and ice in place and the temperatures turned colder, always a possibility in early March, the compacted snow and ice would have hardened further, creating hazardous conditions for vehicles and pedestrians alike," Hunt said.

So that meant nearly 4,000 tickets and more than 1,000 towed vehicles in St. Paul. Bummer.

In Minneapolis, crews did plow thoroughfares, alleys and the center of side streets. But the tickets and tows all went to the East.

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