DULUTH – With close to two feet of snow dumped on the city in as many days, locals were forced to get creative during the holiday weekend.
The blizzard brought Duluth 21.7 inches of snow, the ninth-highest total over two days on record.
Here are some of the stories from those out and about during the historic storm that rang in the month of December.
Slogging to serve supper
Bruce Cvancara trod through mounds of snow for 50 minutes Sunday afternoon to get to St. Scholastica, where he works as dining director.
Though the college was closed Monday, Cvancara knew many students would be back from Thanksgiving break. “And they all need to eat,” he said.
One of his employees walked two miles to a car and picked up two others on her way to campus. Another worker hiked to the college from his home down by the lake.
Despite Cvancara’s extended Sunday commute — usually a five-minute drive — he said he lucked out. Children’s sleds had packed down snow on the one big hill he had to climb.
“It’s a beautiful place and we moved here because of the snow,” he said. “It just makes things interesting sometimes.”
An unexpected overnight
Dray Morrow started her shift as a direct support professional providing adult foster care at noon Saturday. She was supposed to get off at 9 p.m.
“Yeah, I underestimated this storm,” Morrow said candidly. The 19-year-old didn’t bring extra food or clothes to the home of her two clients. As the snow piled up, she couldn’t leave and her co-workers couldn’t come replace her.
“I couldn’t open the door,” she said, thinking she might have to jump out a window. Morrow managed to force her way out, used her hands to dig a path to the shovel and then cleared the walkway and around her car. That took six hours. The plow eventually came and Morrow’s replacement made it to the house by Sunday evening.
After her 32-hour shift, and with her classes at St. Scholastica canceled Monday, she collapsed into bed, exhausted.
Bulldogs in the blizzard
The roads were already bad early Saturday evening when Brandon Monson drove to Canal Park before the University of Minnesota-Duluth men’s hockey game. Amsoil Arena seats more than 6,500 fans, but Monson said just a couple hundred showed up Saturday.
The 29-year-old was picked from the crowd to for a halftime contest on the ice, where he won a prize pack of Bulldogs fan gear. “Totally worth it,” he said.
Monson’s trip home, up the hill to Duluth Heights, was more harrowing. After dropping off a friend, Monson got stuck in a drift in the middle of Joshua Avenue.
Car after car stopped to try and help dig him out to no avail. After two hours, a plow came and set Monson free, allowing him to drive most of the way home. He had to park at a Walgreens because the roads surrounding his house were covered with more than a foot of fresh snow.
Then a man on a snowmobile offered Monson a ride the rest of the way. He jumped on the back of the stranger’s vehicle and wrapped his arms around him “‘Dumb and Dumber’-style.”
“He wouldn’t take any money. None of them would,” Monson said. “The storm brought out the good Samaritans, I guess.”
If the snowshoe fits
Deborah Sah, a pediatric hospitalist at Essentia Health, called the neighbors Sunday morning asking to borrow a pair of snowshoes. They were a bit too big, but Sah had to get to work and they did the trick.
Sah marched, ski poles in hand, from her home in the Congdon neighborhood to the corner of N. 34th Ave. East and 4th Street, where an Essentia security officer picked her up. His car got stuck, so Sah eventually hopped out and snowshoed a few blocks to another hospital employee’s vehicle, which drove her the rest of the way.
In all, it took two hours and about a mile of snowshoeing for Sah to get to work, where she met several mothers who delivered babies during the blizzard. One expecting couple managed to arrive in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Sah said, despite the snow piling up in the raging storm.
“I should have just snowshoed the whole way on my way to work,” said Sah, who mused that it would have been faster. “Next time.”
Uber driver uber-stuck
Eldon Krosch Jr. spent 10 hours Saturday picking up passengers for Uber in his Volkswagen Golf, fitted with snow tires.
Around 7 p.m., he drove to West Duluth to pick up a teenager, whose mom called Uber to drive her son to a friend’s house. Krosch’s car got stuck en route, on Old Hwy. 61, near Spirit Mountain.
Another four cars suffered similar fates. Though they tried to push and plow each other out, the drivers were marooned.
Krosch’s car was still running fine, so he and his passenger stayed warm. They chatted a little and tried to catch a few hours of sleep. A county plow rescued them at 7 a.m. Sunday.
Krosch got the teen home. He doesn’t know exactly how much the Uber ride ended up costing.
“It sounds kind of epic, but it really wasn’t that eventful,” he said. “It was just a long, drawn-out ordeal.”
There were 20 or 30 neighbors out shoveling Sunday afternoon, just after the snow stopped, on Leon Rohrbaugh’s Chester Park street. One started piling snow on his trailer, and others caught onto the plan quickly.
“We thought it was genius,” Rohrbaugh said.
The band of shovelers made a five-foot-high pile, that they packed down and smoothed. Some ran inside to grab their snowboards and started riding down the street and off the makeshift trailer jump.
“If you hit it at the right speed, you could definitely catch some air,” Rohrbaugh said. The neighbors stayed out until dark, together in the snowy streets.