Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Documentation of why you should stay off rural roads during a winter storm January 19, 2020

Just outside of Faribault Saturday afternoon along Rice County Road 25, this old farmhouse was easily visible during the storm.


THE WEATHER IN MINNESOTA has calmed considerably since Saturday when high winds created blizzard and near-blizzard conditions throughout much of the state.

Now we’re dealing with frigid temps, just two degrees above zero mid-morning here in Faribault with an expected high of maybe 10 degrees. Yes, that’s cold, even for those of us who are life-long residents. But we’ve seen much colder, in the double digits sub-zero.

Weather often dominates conversation in Minnesota because it so dramatically affects our lives. Our plans. Our off-work time, especially in the winter when snow removal can seem like a part-time job. But, hey, we choose to live here, right?


Visibility was good as we started out on CR 25 Saturday afternoon.


And sometimes we make choices that aren’t too smart. Like mine yesterday to venture with Randy into the countryside to check out conditions. Per my post late Saturday afternoon, here are more photos from that short drive east of Faribault and back.


Lots of farm sites and rural homes hug the roadway, breaking the wind.


The American flag flying straight out shows the strength of Saturday’s wind on a rural site just east of Faribault along CR 25.


After we passed this barn on our friends’ farm site, conditions deteriorated.


Heading east out of town along Rice County Road 25/197th Street East, conditions were good. Blowing snow was minimal and we could easily see farm sites along the route. But then, as we edged into more open land, with no treelines or farm sites breaking the wind, visibility quickly lessened.


We drove into near white-out conditions along CR 25 near the intersection with CR 23.


Blowing snow diminished visibility.


We found ourselves enveloped in white, white-out conditions is the proper term.


Snow blows around low-slung buildings along CR 23.


Snowdrifts partially edged and crept onto sections of CR 23.


As we continued to drive south on CR 23, blowing snow reduced visibility even more.


Yes, I was scared and even asked Randy to turn around and retrace our route. Easier said than done. Instead, he eased onto County Road 23. Blowing snow still limited visibility although I could see near-the-road farm sites in the haze of white. Considerable drifting of snow near and onto the road now concerned me.


Snow pushed back from the roadway at the intersection of CR 23 and Minnesota State Highway 60 and photographed from the front passenger side window.


By the time we reached Minnesota State Highway 60, I was so ready to be done with this little adventure. Plowed snow banked the intersection. Randy rolled down his window to check for oncoming traffic.


Once on Minnesota State Highway 60 heading west, travel improved. More farm sites border this highway than along the county roads.


Then, thankfully, as we drove west toward Faribault, with less open space and farm sites breaking the wind, visibility improved.


Conditions as we approached Faribault were good, considering what we’d just driven through.


Lesson learned: Stay home during a winter storm, especially when you advise others to do so.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Documentation of why you should stay off rural roads during a winter storm”

  1. Wow… scary. You’re having a harsh winter. Stay safe, Audrey. Glad you and Randy are alright. ❤

  2. Gunny Says:

    Aaah, I love a challenge! And I have heated seats and a 4X4 – way more better equipment than the last time I drove a 1,000 plus miles through a snow storm!

    Even in urban areas, people NEED to remember what is (or was) there. After driving through a blizzard that was early on a sleet storm, and after successfully completing my trip, as I carefully turned the corner right near my apartment, I was struck by the image of a car that looked more like a sinking ship. The driver had driven his car into a deep bar ditch, Rear axle was hanging off the bottom of the car and dangling about 4 or 5 feet in the air. Car was near perpendicular to the (apparent) ground level.


  3. Ilene Atarian Says:

    I guess there is a reason they tell us not to venture out.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    What an adventure…Glad you are OK.
    I love the photo of the barn and blue sky – 3rd one down.

  5. valeriebollinger Says:

    We went for a drive on Sunday. The roads were still icy but the snow wasn’t swirling about…
    It was cloudy so not as pretty.

    • I love that you went for a Sunday drive. Where did you go?

      • valeriebollinger Says:

        On a gravel road we hadn’t been on, and about 3 miles from our house! I’m going to blog about it sometime. We were on roads Gary had been on with his gravel bike so he gradually found the way to a picturesque old mill, Oxford Mill. Ever been there?

      • Nope, I’ve never been to Oxford Mill. Please email directions for a future Sunday afternoon drive. You’re like me in realizing you needn’t go far from home to discover interesting and beautiful places.

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