November 13, 2008

When the snow falls ...

Area blasted with season’s first winter weather

By Chris Gessele

Last Thursday, Hazen was smack in the middle of a blizzard warning, and on the cold end of the first adverse weather conditions of this young winter season. Several parts of Mercer County reported nearly 10 inches of snow – the most snow accumulation in one shot the area has seen in a recent memory.

Because the snow came with lots and lots of wind, the weather’s effects – but immediate and long-term – were felt in Hazen and throughout the area.

Area drivers handled low visibility conditions and slippery roads pretty well, said Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Ternes. A few motorists became stranded in the ditch along State Highway 200 Thursday and Friday, but very few problems were reported for the most part.

"We believe people heeded the warnings and used common sense," Ternes said. "For the size and duration of this storm, it was a surprise. A good surprise."

To ensure the public’s safety, Hazen’s Street Department was working hard ever since the wind died down. Crews make sure equipment is ready to roll as soon as the weather forecast calls for a winter storm, Hazen City Forman George Quast said. The snow removal crew’s first order of business is to ensure emergency routes are open – such as the route to Sakakawea Medical Center, as well as intersections along Highway 200. If school is in session that particular day, crews also work to clear paths for buses. Then, Main Street and residential areas get snow windrowed and picked up.

Hazen is unique in that all street snow is loaded onto trucks, Quast said, and dumped in empty lots. In many communities, snow on residential streets is pushed off to the side, left for residents to cope with. The Hazen crew’s method takes a little longer, Quast said, but goes a long way in making winter life easier for Hazen residents.

The Weather Network