Ice cover on the Great Lakes is dropping, reports John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune. “The lakes, combined, are now only an estimated 62 percent ice-covered, and you’d get wet trying to walk across any of them. That’s down from a high of 88 percent estimated ice cover on Feb. 13. Lake Superior dropped from a high of an estimated 94 percent ice cover at mid-month to just 77.5 percent on Monday, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. … There has been ample speculation that Superior would reach virtual freeze-over this year for the first time since 1996 and one of the few times in recent memory. But that hasn’t happened yet.”
Chalk up another victory for Kevlar. The Fargo Forum reports that the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office “received a call about [a suspicious vehicle] at 9:17 p.m. Monday. A deputy responded and made contact with the two people inside the vehicle near Alexandria. One of the occupants fired a gun at the deputy, striking him in the chest, according to the sheriff’s office. The deputy returned fire and the suspects drove away. The vehicle traveled only a short distance before it got stuck in the snow and the occupants fled on foot. After an extensive search of the area, the two suspects were located in deep snow near an outbuilding. They were both dead. A firearm was found near their bodies. The cause and manner of death for the suspects will be determined by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office. The deputy was wearing a bullet-resistant vest and was treated and released at the Douglas County Hospital.”
Last week’s storm was nasty for a lot of people, especially those in Southern Minnesota. The Albert Lea Tribune reports that 126 vehicles went off the road in Mower and Freeborn counties alone. “There were also 15 crashes with damage to vehicles during that time. As of Saturday afternoon, state troopers had responded to nearly 1,000 crashes across the state, plus another 2,300 vehicles that spun out or ran off the road. The storm dropped about 7 inches in Albert Lea Thursday and early Friday.”
Buried deep in a weather story in the Owatonna People’s Press are these tidbits on drought and flooding: “Owatonna received six inches of snow from the blizzard. That total equaled 0.69 inches of water, which may help with the already improved drought conditions across the area. ‘It’s kind of a tricky one with drought, because the ground is frozen, so a lot of what is on the ground is going to run off. It’ll benefits wetlands, rivers and lakes but it might not benefit soil that much,’ said Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist with the Minnesota Climatology Working Group. … Lots of snow could mean lots of water entering area waterways when it melts in the spring. Johnson said that at this point, he’s not worried about flooding taking place when the snow melts. “Preliminarily, we don’t see any problems with this … Right now I’m not concerned. Hopefully when we go through it and the snow melts, it will be over a longer period of time. That gives that buffer to us and our waterways.”
Dan Linehan of the Mankato Free Press outlines how his city gets rid of snow quickly and efficiently by using an army of farmers and sweet corn trucks. Late at night when all are snug in their beds, Jason Schroepfer and about a dozen farmers “haul the rough equivalent of perhaps five Olympic-sized pools off to a farm field on the north edge of town. The operation costs about $10,000 a night, but it’s essential if downtown sidewalks are to remain usable…. The operation starts when the snow is plowed into rows in the middle of the street. Then, a massive snowblower loads the trucks. An individual truck (about 10 are used) can be filled quickly, in only a few minutes, but will make about 40 or 50 trips a night… The snow ends up in a giant pile near Industrial Road, next to a BMX track. The works begins around midnight, when traffic is sparse, and wraps up before 7 a.m. It’s limited to the downtown area — between Madison Avenue and Liberty Street and Riverfront Drive to Broad Street.”
Don’t you dare think you are in the clear yet. There’s plenty more winter on the way. The good folks at the West Central Tribune in Willmar say the “National Weather Service has issued wind chill advisories for all of Minnesota and Wisconsin, most of Iowa and North Dakota and portions of Illinois and South Dakota. The first advisory was issued last night and continues until 10 a.m. this morning and the second advisory is from 9 p.m. tonight to 11 a.m. Wednesday. … Forecasters expected wind chills from 25 to 35 below late tonight into Wednesday morning. The winds will also create blowing and drifting snow and poor visibility across much of southern and central Minnesota, including some whiteout conditions. … Wednesday will be sunny and 18 degrees, but with west southwest winds from 25 to 30 mph, gusts to 40 mph, keeping wind chills around 34 below. The high temperatures for Thursday, Friday and Saturday range from 2 above to 3 below zero, with low temperatures around 16 below zero. There is a 20 percent chance of snow from Saturday through Monday.
Trey Mewis of the Austin Daily Herald gets to cover a little breaking news as he wrote about a “standoff at Park Place Commons apartments that lasted more than 13 hours. Steven Fritz was taken to the Mower County jail on an Olmsted County warrant, according to Police Chief Brian Krueger. Krueger said police were called to an apartment unit … at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday night on a call Fritz may pose a danger to himself and others. Police were told Fritz also may have a gun. … Officers entered Fritz’s apartment and took him into custody without incident at 9:48 a.m.”
A former Hermantown School Board member is suspected of stealing more than $20,000 in diamonds and cash, writes Jason B. Johnson of the Duluth News Tribune. “Stephanie Hamell, who resigned her position on the board last month, is accused of taking $16,500 in jewelry and $5,000 in cash and has admitted to the theft. Investigators interviewed her in December and formally charged her on Feb. 14, police said. … The incident began in January 2013, when a friend of Hamell asked her to hang onto some cash and jewelry for her. The jewelry was a wedding set consisting of five diamonds in two rings. Sometime last April and May, the victim, whose name was not released, began asking for the items back, said Hermantown Police Deputy Chief Shawn Padden. ‘When the friend asked to get the diamonds and cash back from her, Hamell concocts a story that she can’t get into her safe. (That) she’s got to get the safe back to the manufacturer in California,’ Padden said. Sometime later, Hamell told her friend that when she got the safe back, the cash was gone, Padden said. Hamell eventually returned the rings, but the friend discovered the apparent deception after taking them to a jeweler in the Twin Cities after one of the stones became loose and fell from a ring, Padden said. … The jeweler determined that the diamonds had been switched with Swarovski crystals, which refract light in a rainbow spectrum giving them the appearance of genuine diamonds. Police were then notified.” Hamell, 42, has no apparent criminal history, police told the News Tribune.
The Brainerd Dispatch reports that Brainerd represented well in the 2014 Miss/Mrs. Minnesota United States Pageant. “Rebecca Schreurs, Miss Teen Brainerd, was named Miss Teen Minnesota United States 2014. She is the daughter of Michele Schreurs and Scott Hornby. Schreurs also was the overall evening gown winner. Hannah Northburg, Miss Jr. Teen Brainerd, was named Miss Jr. Teen Minnesota United States 2014. Northburg is the daughter of Jennifer Northburg-Schwartz. Jackie Thurlow, Miss Brainerd United States was named the overall swimsuit winner and Miss Congeniality. Directors of the Miss Minnesota Pageant are Vicki Randall and Bill Musel of Brainerd. Schreurs and Northburg will now begin preparations to compete at the Miss United States Pageant to be held July 1-6, in Washington D.C.”