Midwest Digs Out, Northwest Thaws Out, Southeast Cools Out
Undated (AP) _ The upper Midwest dug out Tuesday from the season’s first big snowstorm, with Minneapolis towing hundreds of cars from snow routes, and cold air made its seasonal migration into the Southeast while warm, wet air melted snow in the Northwest.
Off California, the Coast Guard rescued crews of boats caught in 20-foot waves that made a Coast Guard surfboat turn over.
The list of record lows that started in October got longer Tuesday as International Falls, Minn., chipped four degrees off its former mark with a low of 27 degrees below zero, and Tower in northeastern Minnesota hit 33 below. And while relatively warm rain melted Seattle’s snow and ice, Yakima, Wash., posted a record low of 1 below zero and other parts of the Northwest got wet snow.
″Winter kind of struck early in a number of regions in the country, and it hasn’t backed off. It’s like winter started a month ahead,″ said meteorologist Pete Reynolds of the National Severe Storms Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Midwest storm was blamed for at least 26 deaths since Friday, and more than a week of stormy weather in the Northwest contributed to 29 deaths.
Flooding eased around the eastern end of Lake Erie, where wind from the Midwest storm had driven water onto shore and whipped up 12-foot waves.
Major and secondary roads throughout Minnesota were in generally good condition Tuesday with scattered slippery spots, after the storm dumped 11/2 feet of snow, state transportation officials said.
Minnesota spent an estimated $1.8 million to plow snow from Friday through Monday, said Curtis Christie, maintenance engineer with the state Department of Transportation. The state ran about 750 snowplows with 1,500 workers.
Plowing Minneapolis streets was expected to cost $500,000, which officials said left about $500,000 in the budget for the rest of December.
At least 1,200 vehicles had been towed in Minneapolis for violating snow- emergency parking restrictions, adding up to at least $78,000 in fines and charges for the offenders. And Fire Chief Tom Dickinson urged people to ″adopt a fire hydrant″ and dig out the city’s 6,000 hydrants.
Most schools reopened Tuesday in the Midwest, where Minnesota alone had more than 500 schools, colleges and universities closed Monday.
Among the schools that closed Monday was Northern Michigan University at Marquette, where 34 inches of snow fell.
″There’s big snow banks next to the buildings and some students are jumping off roofs and out of windows,″ said junior Scott Volmer. ″We’re not supposed to do that, but it looked like fun.″
The storm’s wind blew two freighters from their moorings off Sturgeon Bay, Wis., forced closure of a canal on the St. Lawrence Seaway and pushed water into low-lying communities, with 12-foot waves on eastern Lake Erie.
″The damage is very, very substantial,″ said Hamburg, N.Y., town Supervisor Jack Quinn after touring areas near his town south of Buffalo, N.Y. About 150 people were evacuated from 70 homes in the area Monday.
″There are houses moved from their foundations, walls are collapsing, and roofs are coming off,″ he said. ″The water is up to the car windows.″
Offshore from Erie, Pa., the wind pushed 2 feet of water onto some roads on Presque Isle State Park.
Western Maryland got its first snowfall of the year, state police reported, and temperatures dropped below freezing in parts of Tennessee, with a low of 24 at Nashville, and elsewhere in the Southeast.
Off the coast of California, a Coast Guard helicopter rescued six people early Tuesday from a fishing boat adrift in 20-foot seas and in danger of smashing into rocky San Nicholas Island southwest of Los Angeles.
Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young’s office appealed Tuesday to businesses, churches and community groups to help provide more shelter for the homeless during an expected second night of freezing temperatures. Spokesman Gordon Sellers said 3,500 additional beds were needed. New York City housed more than 8,000 homeless Monday night, the city’s first freezing night of the season.
Off San Francisco, the Coast Guard rescued six people Tuesday from an overturned sailboat, but a seventh was missing. Another sailboat was abandoned Monday after its crew was rescued, and a Coast Guard surfboat sent to its aid was rolled completely over, as it is designed to do in heavy seas.
In the Northwest, rising temperatures turned intersections into ponds in southern Idaho as snow melted, and wet, heavy snow collapsed scores of patio and carport roofs. Boise had more than a foot of snow Monday but was down to just 4 inches Tuesday morning.
Rain in Seattle helped clear streets of snow and ice left by more than a week of freezing weather, but Washington state’s main east-west highway, Interstate 90, was closed at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades from Monday night until early Tuesday by ice and drifting snow.
Interstate 84 was closed by snow and ice wat noon Monday between Troutdale and Hood River and remained closed into Tuesday afternoon.
Most of the weather-related deaths were due to traffic accidents and heart attacks while shoveling snow. The Midwest storm was blamed for 11 deaths in Minnesota, seven in Iowa, four in Wisconsin, two in Michigan and one each in Indiana and Illinois.
In the West, Oregon had two weekend weather deaths, a hiker died in California after falling down an icy slope on Mount Baldy and a sailor was missing. Sixteen people had died in traffic accidents in Washington state since the snow began Nov. 21, the State Patrol reported, and Idaho had 10 traffic deaths blamed at least in part on the weather.