UPDATE: Snowstorm drops seven inchesJust over seven inches of snow fell Tuesday night and Wednesday in Red Wing and almost 10 inches in parts of Pierce County, according to the National Weather Service.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Just over seven inches of snow fell Tuesday night and Wednesday in Red Wing and almost 10 inches in parts of Pierce County, according to the National Weather Service.
Zumbrota reported more than 11 inches of snow.
The wintry blast brought blizzard conditions to Goodhue and Pierce counties before the storm moved out of the area.
Minnesota Department of Transportation officials urged drivers to stay off the roads in southeastern Minnesota where snow totals may top 12 inches and wind gusts of up to 50 mph could create white-out conditions.
County and city of Red Wing officials started gearing up for the winter wallop earlier this week, pre-treating roads and paying attention to trouble spots as the snow started falling Tuesday morning.
Ron Scripture, Goodhue County highway superintendent, said crews spent Tuesday evening plowing areas near the hospital and nuclear plant and that the county's full fleet of 13 plows and three graders would hit the roads between 4 and 5 a.m. Wednesday.
"We're ready to go," he said. "Stay back from the snow plows. Give them some room."
Red Wing officials did issue a snow emergency. Visit the city's Web site at www.red-wing.org or tune to Channel 6 for more information.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Goodhue County dispatchers had received seven accident calls countywide -- including Red Wing -- but sheriff's officials predicted that number would rise overnight and through today.
"We always forget how to drive the first day," said Chief Deputy Scott McNurlin. "Keep the motto in your head over and over again to slow down."
McNurlin said motorists should use caution when traveling over the next few days and be prepared.
Have your cell phone fully charged and make sure your vehicle is equipped with snow gear, clothing and food in case you become stranded, he said.
"People tend to forget to get their car kind of safe for that unexpected event," McNurlin said. "The first big snowfall of the year should remind us those things we should have in the car and ready to go."
McNurlin said most crashes can be avoided if drivers slow down and realize that winter-driving skills do not come back to people overnight.
He said a common mistake is improperly anticipating the amount of time and distance it takes a vehicle to stop.
"That first snowfall of the year people typically panic," McNurlin said. "We're always wanting to get from point A to point B like we did in June."
Cold temperatures will blanket the area as the storm moves through, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures will tumble from Tuesday's high in the mid-20s to the single digits until Friday, according to the NWS. Wind chills will be below zero.