After an already storm filled summer in Stern Rubber’s backyard, central Minnesota got another taste of mother nature’s ability, on Friday November 17th, when nearly 15 inches of snow accumulated in a little over a five-hour period.
With local weather stations predicting 12 to 14 inches of snow the entire week in the area, no one was really prepared for what blew in. Quickly schools began canceling with only a few inches of snow on the ground Friday morning, but locals and travelers were soon overwhelmed by the blizzard that struck. Heavy, wet flakes filled the air mid-morning Friday. The snow combined with the 40+ mph wind, caused the conditions to quickly change from common snow storm, to blizzard.
The unbearable conditions lead to less than one foot of visibility at some points, and even caused us here at Stern to shut down our plant and allow our employees to head home early so that they could ensure a safe return, and begin working on clean up. Our general manager Bob Jackson said that this was only the second time in his 25 years here, that a snow storm had shut down the plant.
The storm lead to several jack-knifed trucks, minor collisions and vehicles stuck and abandoned on the roads all over the area. Yet that was not the worst of it, as trees and powerlines came down
due to the heavy load of snow scattered the area, blocking off roads and causing thousands to lose power through Friday night, and into Saturday and Sunday. Crews from Crow Wing Power and Minnesota Power companies got to work as quickly as they could, while ensuring to stay safe in the less than fair conditions. Ice covered lines, trees blocking roads, high winds and icy streets lead to crews having to quit early Friday evening, and return to work Saturday morning to restore power across the lakes area.
In the end, roughly 13 inches of snow accumulated across a large area, with the National Weather Service in Duluth saying that this November blizzard was one of the worst early season snow falls since 1983, when the Brainerd area accumulated 10 inches on November 13th. The highest reported total in the local area was 20” in Leader, just 15 miles northeast of the Staples facility. This early snow is just an extension of the devastating July storms that have pounded the lakes area over the last two years, and may be an indication of what our winter here in central Minnesota may have in store for us.