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UMD facilities management snow sweeper moves past a 10-foot snow pile Jan. 24, 2005.

A UMD snow sweeper worked away at clearing the white stuff on Monday. Facilities management student worker Maria Louwagie of Cottonwood, Minnesota, was behind the wheel.

The U digs out

Staff statewide plow, shovel, and sweep up after a late-January storm

By Gayla Marty

From Brief, January 26, 2005

At the University of Minnesota Duluth, high on the hill overlooking Lake Superior, wintery forces routinely combine to make more snow than anywhere else in the state. This year is no exception. But the storm that swept Minnesota last week and headed east across the nation gave UMD 16 more inches for a season total of 67.

"It's kind of hard to tell when one storm cleanup ends and the next one begins," says UMD grounds supervisor Steve Schilling. "All I know is I've got a great crew of people getting it done."

Schilling worked this week with UMD's grounds crew and 3 contractors, which meant 25 operators and lots of overtime. Together they keep 3 miles of streets and 5 miles of sidewalks cleared, plus several acres of parking lots.

The storm dumped 5 to 9 inches of snow on the other U campuses. Crookston now has a season total of 27.5 inches, Rochester 20.8, Morris 13.8, and the Twin Cities a paltry 10.6--most of which fell this weekend, according to assistant state climatologist Greg Spoden.

Earlier storms had all missed the Twin Cities. The January 20 storm was the latest the Twin Cities has ever had to wait for a one-inch snowfall. The first inch often comes in November or even October. The old record of January 9 was set in 1945.

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UMC residential life maintenance supervisor Neal Benoit shoveling out a walkway to Lee Hall.

Photo by John Zak To many people, the overdue snow was welcome.

"We start clearing when hard surfaces like roads and sidewalks are covered," says Twin Cities campus grounds superintendent Les Potts. Contractors clear parking lots when snow is two inches or deeper. The goal is to have a path open by 7 a.m.

This weekend, the Twin Cities campus snow removal system kicked into high gear. With 60 miles of campus streets and sidewalks, it's one of the biggest campuses in the nation and keeps 60 land care staff and student workers busy shoveling, de-icing, and sanding building stairs and entrances. By Monday morning, most pathways were clear.

Rochester has had its share of snow for the season, including 9 inches in this storm. The University Rochester Center, which houses the University of Minnesota and two other college programs, contracts for snow removal.

Crookston and Morris each clear between 2 and 3 miles of streets and 8 to 12 acres of parking lots, plus sidewalks. At Morris, that means four staff members.

"We try to have everything open the first day and finish up the second day after a typical snowfall," said Morris's Peter Orr, supervisor for grounds, fleet, and recycling.

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