Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When another winter storm blasts Minnesota January 5, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Clearing snow from a parked car along Willow Street near my home Wednesday morning. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2023)

HERE IT IS, only a few days into 2023 and Minnesota has already experienced its first major multi-day winter weather event of the new year. Snow. Ice. Freezing rain. Sleet. Drizzle. Everything.

With four months of winter remaining, I am already weary of snow. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2023)

This storm comes on the heels of a major pre-Christmas snowstorm that essentially shut down travel in the southern half of our state. The fall-out is much the same. Snow-packed, icy roads. Crashes and spin-outs. Schools closed. Flights delayed and cancelled. A Delta jet from Mexico slid off an icy taxiway early Tuesday evening at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. No one was injured.

Snow layers on everything from trees to power and telephone lines. There were power outages in some parts of Minnesota, but not in Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2023)

Tuesday and Wednesday were a weather mess here. Randy’s commutes, typically a 35-minute drive, took nearly an hour. He drove on several miles of a snow-covered state highway untouched by a snowplow blade and on snow-compacted, icy roads the remainder of the way.

The name on this plow blade indicates this plow truck driver means business when it comes to quick and easy snow removal. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2023)

And then we had to deal with removing snow from our sidewalk and driveway. We are fortunate to own a snowblower. But it is ancient, bulky, subject to break-downs. Sheered pins. A metal ground plate so rusty that Randy finally removed it.

A City of Faribault snowplow truck passes through my neighborhood Wednesday morning. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2023)

Heavy, wet snow like this is difficult to blow. The chute clogs, requiring frequent stops to clear the snow with something other than a hand. Chunks of snow bladed from the street into the ends of the driveway and sidewalk can’t be blown. That requires back-breaking shoveling. I felt like I was lifting rocks as I bent, scooped, heaved the heavy, moisture-laden snow atop the ever-growing mounds banking the drive and sidewalk ends. I paced myself, cognizant of my age and this heavy snow being “heart attack” or “widow maker” type snow.

Snowplow trucks have been out in full force for two days clearing snow from residential and business properties. I photographed this truck on Willow Street Wednesday morning. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2023)

Just as I’d nearly finished clearing the driveway end, the guy removing snow from my neighbor’s property with a utility vehicle pushed the remaining snow away from our driveway. I felt such gratitude for this act of kindness. I leaned on the scoop shovel handle with a thankful heart.

As I type this late Wednesday morning, snow continues to fall, as it did overnight. The snow removal of yesterday will repeat today. The ends of the driveway and sidewalk are once again blocked by snow chunks plowed from the street.

Snow layers a neighbors’ yard, tree and fence as snow falls. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2023)

But when I look beyond that to the woods behind my house, to my neighbors’ trees and bushes and rooftops, I glimpse a winter wonderland. This landscape layered in snow is lovely. Almost like paint-by-number artwork. That is the scene I need to remember when I’m out shoveling later and muttering words best left unwritten about winter storms in Minnesota.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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23 Responses to “When another winter storm blasts Minnesota”

  1. Nice that someone helped a bit with the snow removal. In my experience, I would just get my walk and driveway shoveled and then the snowplow would come by on the town street and totally make my work obsolete! I can remember a few unpublishable Northern Minnesota words for that snowplow driver!

  2. I’ve been thinking about you this winter. Stay warm and stay safe, Audrey. Sending warm thoughts! ❤

    • I mostly don’t need to go out during winter storms. It’s Randy who does and I’ll be thankful when he’s retired and no longer commuting in winter. I just help with snow removal. He actually did all of that before leaving for work this morning.

  3. The county plows snow from the road in front of our house and our homeowners association removes snow from our long driveway. But, before we got to go out and snowshoe through our local “winter wonderland” (and it certainly is that), we still had to shovel snow off our porch, stairs, and part of the driveway. Saying “winter wonderland” with each shovel of snow flung seemed to make the work go easier. 🙄

  4. It is certainly a pretty winter wonderland 🙂 The shoveling and driving in it I do not miss. Stay warm and be careful while out and about. We had a beautiful day here yesterday and then had rain overnight and a foggy drive into work this morning. Happy Day – Enjoy!

  5. You have lived with this weather for so long you have learned how to cope with it. When it first falls it is oh so very pretty and magical but the weariness grows when you have to start moving it. Thankful for those that go out of their way to help —- so glad you have a snow blower!

  6. Susan Ready Says:

    While I do feel your pain with never-ending snowfalls your last lines give a nod to the picturesque scenes that are ever-evolving do add some bright notes to your day with some neighborly help to ease the load of shoveling.

    • The outdoors remains a snowscape of beauty. And, yes, so thankful for that help. Randy did all snow removal before leaving for work this morning. I felt grateful for that act of kindness so I don’t have to shovel for the third day in a row.

  7. Ken Wedding Says:

    Thanks for describing what is normal for us. I forget that those experiences are so foreign to many others. Meanwhile these storms make me very thankful that we moved to a condo a couple years ago. The HOA (that we pay for) plows and shovels our parking lot and driveway.

  8. Rose Says:

    We received a lot of snow as well. I was just telling my husband, it looks like we have an igloo out back on our patio. Sadly, many of our tall pines tops have broken off with these last few heavy snowfalls, we’ll have to figure if we do clean-up out in the woods or leave it for wildlife….?

  9. It is absolutely beautiful (I write this from a lounge area in sunny 70 degree Florida where our diesel RV is getting a major repair). It’s nice to enjoy the photos and not the reality of the cold….Brrrrrr!

  10. Valerie Says:

    I like the story of your neighbor’s snow removal guy pushing away a bit of snow from your driveway too. That was kind of him.

    This much snow is a lot of work!

    And then the big road plows come through and we’re shoveling the ends of our driveways again. Sigh.

  11. Sandra Says:

    Been my sage experience that nothing brings out the best in MN people like being snowbound or just stuck. The 25″ of 1991 Halloween buried every vehicle in our general lots, including my daughter’s. Angels appeared from everywhere. And, it was windy. If this had been big windy, don’t want to think about it. Just went on for too long. My patio got 10″, Woodbury got 13.5″, who cares? too much. You being south of metro, always gets more. A neighbor drives for metro mobility. A choir buddy’s son is an EMT. I keep saying at least it isn’t Buffalo, moving cars with front loaders, all I have to do is stay in a home that hasn’t lost power. And know, it’s only Jan. Let’s try and keep a good thought. I guess “pretty” still qualifies.


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