MARSHALL - Between Leap Day on the calendar and the weather outside, it was something of an unusual day all around. After months of mild temperatures, the Marshall area received its first real snowstorm of the winter Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. A little more than four inches of snow fell in Marshall, in addition to rain throughout the day on Tuesday.
Both city and county snowplow crews were at work Wednesday morning. Although it was cold enough for snow, temperatures during the day meant roads were a little more slushy than slick.
"I think the snow helped us," said Lyon County Highway Superintendent Jim Thomasson. The extra insulation the snow provided kept some of Tuesday's rain from freezing on county roads. Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said the risk of a freeze later this week meant city crews were also sanding streets in Marshall on Wednesday.
Photo by Steve Browne
Bot’s Appliance employee Derek Blomme clears snow from the sidewalk after Wednesday’s late season snowfall.
"We want to get that kind of melted down," before it gets any colder outside, he said. Hopefully most of the snowmelt would be drained off of streets before it could become a hazard.
Precipitation data collected at the Marshall wastewater plant said 4.2 inches of snow and ice pellets fell in town by Wednesday afternoon, plus 1.46 inches of rain and snowmelt from Tuesday. The storm brought some much-needed moisture to the area, but closed schools and canceled or postponed many community events.
While this winter has been a respite for road workers after the past couple of plow seasons, road crews were well-prepared for Wednesday's storm, Olson and Thomasson said.
"We haven't had much snow to deal with this winter," Thomasson said, but that doesn't change the level of preparation county public works staff does for the season.
The biggest challenge for county road workers was coping with the loss of equipment in a recent fire at the county shop in Cottonwood. The fire left two trucks unusable for snow removal, but Thomasson said, "The county board has been very good. They replaced one unit right away, and the county is in the process of purchasing another."
That purchase process could take a while, so the highway department is still down one truck, Thomasson said. However, the replacement truck was "a life-saver" in responding to Wednesday's snowstorm, Thomasson said. Being able to have snowplows spread out around the county makes clearing the roads faster.
Olson said having advance warning of the storm during the past few days gave city workers time to make sure they were prepared.
"We had good forecasting saying it was coming," he said.
Trees could be seen coated in ice and weighted with snow on Wednesday, but there didn't appear to be much damage done by downed branches in Marshall. Marshall Municipal Utilities Manager Brad Roos said there had been no reports of power outages caused by downed limbs. A high percentage of Marshall's power lines are underground, and wouldn't be affected, he said.
Olson said there was a possible concern that the wet, heavy snow would prevent Marshall residents from getting their driveways and sidewalks cleared. However, he said there had been no complaints of unshoveled pavement on Wednesday.
It may have been messy, but the snow did have its admirers. Many Marshall kids and teens were outdoors, making the most of their day off from school.
"We needed this," said Aislen Bretado, as she and Amanda Vue climbed up the sliding hill at Independence Park.
Further down the slope, Adam Cavazos said he and his friends had been planning to go sledding if there was ever enough snow. It felt a bit strange not seeing much snow until the end of February, sledders at the park said.
"It's nothing like last year," Brock Baumgarn summed up.