Twin Cities residents have been clearing store shelves of snow-related products. And for good reason.
A new storm is set to dump 3 to 5 inches of snow Monday night into Tuesday. Right behind that is another system that on Thursday is set to sock parts of Minnesota with an undetermined amount of snow.
All that comes on the heels of Sunday’s 5-inch snowfall and last week’s storms that have plow drivers working overtime, hardware stores shipping in products to meet high demand and winter-weary Minnesotans looking to head south.
“This has definitely been a stressor for all customers,” said Mike Frattallone, a spokesman for the family-operated chain of 21 Ace Hardware stores in the Twin Cities. “We sold a year’s worth of ice melt in seven days.”
Customers cleared shelves of snow-related products in the past few weeks. On Monday stores were all stocked up again. “It has been very busy,” Frattallone said. “About 90 percent of our customers have wanted snow-related products.”
AAA Minneapolis is seeing a slight increase in calls from people looking for an inexpensive vacation escape to any place warm, said Linda Snyder, the club’s vice president of Travel.
“I looked for myself over the weekend, maybe try to fit in a long weekend,” she said. With spring-break season approaching, flights are filling up, she said.
There has been no vacation for Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) plow drivers, who are working 12-hour shifts around the clock, said agency spokesman Kevin Gutknecht. The agency had stockpiled 275,000 tons of salt, and there’s plenty to get through the rest of the season.
“We are not in danger of running out,” Gutknecht said.
He had one message for drivers: Stay away from the plows. As of Thursday, 42 plows had been hit statewide. That is dangerous for motorists and plow drivers — and every mishap takes a plow out of service. MnDOT needs every one this year.
“Chances are the roads are better behind the plow,” Gutknecht said. “Give them room to work.”
Over the next two weeks, plows will be out quite a bit. Another system is forecast to arrive late Saturday into Sunday, and more precipitation is expected next week.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768