Cleaning up after Christmas storm
Christmas Day brought more than just presents under the tree — it brought a storm consisting of snow and ice as well as thunder and lightning, knocking out power and icing over roads.
The freezing rain left behind broken power poles, bent flag poles, and streets and yards littered with branches.
Bill Thoennes, director of parks and facilities for the city of Alexandria, said his crews were out picking up branches that were near the street and in city parks, but that they do not pick up branches and downed trees from yards of residences within the city limits.
"We have a lot of area to cover so we encourage people to take their own branches and trees from their own property out to the landfill," said Thoennes, who added that he hopes the city will be done with its cleanup by the end of Friday.
Shane Schmidt of Alex Rubbish and Recycling shared some advice about debris from downed trees and limbs.
"Don't put it in your garbage," he said. "Bring it out to the landfill or call someone to take care of it for you."
Rare Christmas rain
Although the precipitation was hard to calculate because it was a mixture of snow and rain, Shawn DeVinny, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service out of Chanhassen, said the Alexandria area saw nearly 0.7 inches of rainfall, which occurred mostly on Christmas Day. When it comes to snow totals, DeVinny said unlike rain, there are no automated ways of calculating the amounts. It is all based on human observers who do the best they can, he said. Snowfall totals for this area over the Christmas holiday were estimated to be about 2 inches, he said.
Thunderstorms during the winter are definitely unusual in Minnesota, said DeVinny.
"I think only a couple of times over the last four decades has there been rain and thunderstorms on Christmas Day," he said. "The Twin Cities area saw some rain on Christmas Day in 2009, but it looks like 1959 was the last time measurable rainfall occurred in Alexandria (on Christmas)."
The wind, colder temperatures and rain produced a plethora of ice accumulations across the county with ice not only building up on roads, but also on trees and powerlines, wreaking havoc all over.
Ryan Rooney with Runestone Electric Association said there were around 1,400 REA members without power starting about 5 p.m. on Christmas Day, with more customers losing power into early Monday. All power was restored by 9:30 p.m. Monday.
Rooney said the largest area without power was just north of Lake Miltona mostly due to poles that broke under heavy ice. Other areas that were hit hard, said Rooney, were the east side of Lake Mary, the south side of Lake Andrew and near Pocket Lake.
Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said ice-covered roads and a busy travel day made for numerous crashes on Monday, including one serious injury crash near Garfield on County Road 82.
Along Interstate 94 between Brandon and Garfield a semi truck slid off the road and flipped on its side about noon Monday, according to Jesse Grabow with the Minnesota State Patrol. On Tuesday, crews worked to move the load — bags of feed and grain, according to Grabow — from the flipped over semi to another truck.