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Brutal 2018-19 winter was the costliest for Minnesota roads in a decade

Winter 2018-19 will go down in history.

Winter 2018-19 was brutal, but in more ways than simply freezing Minnesotans' faces seconds after they walked outside, or sending people to chiropractors as they dealt with backbreaking heavy, wet snow. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, last winter was a massive financial burden that cost them $133 million to clear roads of snow. 

MnDOT says it was the costliest winter in Minnesota in a decade, with the following factors contributing to the high costs. 

  • Statewide snowfall average of 97.2 inches. 
  • 31 snow events (storms of varying levels) during the winter. 
  • Winter Severity Index score of 154 (almost 40 points higher than in 2017-18). 
  • 1,800+ snowplow drivers working nearly 200,000 hours of overtime. 
  • 800+ plow trucks operating. 
  • Used 35,900 tons of sand. 
  • Used 246,500 tons of salt. 

The most memorable week of winter came in February, when an historic blizzard showed no mercy on southern Minnesota. It happened Feb. 20 when 8-10 inches of snow fell from southwest Minnesota through the Twin Cities, followed by a bomb cyclone blizzard two days later that added a foot of snow and wind gusts up to 55 mph. 

“Heavy snow is difficult, but the blowing snow proved to be our biggest challenge,” said Tim Zierden, District 6 maintenance superintendent, in the report. “We had 6- to 8-foot snow drifts more than a mile long on the interstate and it was worse on many of our two-lane highways.” 

It was so bad that Interstate 90 west of Albert Lea was closed for the weekend, along with I-35 south of Faribault and I-90 from the Faribault area to Dexter. It's something MnDOT calls a "rare triple shutdown." 

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