Winter is upon us, are you ready?

Posted 12/30/20

By Bruce Karnick [email protected] With the second snowfall of 2020 occurring just in time for a white Christmas, now is the time to accept that it is here to stay for a while. Hastings had …

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Winter is upon us, are you ready?


By Bruce Karnick [email protected]

With the second snowfall of 2020 occurring just in time for a white Christmas, now is the time to accept that it is here to stay for a while. Hastings had reports of 8-10 inches of snow. At 19th and Pine, the snowfall measured almost nine inches. Do we need to say ‘unofficially’ since we are not a recognized weather station? Regardless, that is a solid effort by mother nature to give us a Christmas view we are used too. Unfortunately, that means for Hastings Public Works, the view started out from behind the steering wheel.

Hastings has around 105 miles of city streets that are maintained by Public Works. Let that number sink in a little. 105 miles… According to Google Maps, if you were to travel from the Hastings Post office to Grand Casino Hinkley, that is 99.2 miles, and it would take one hour and 35 minutes. Hastings to St. Cloud State, 94.7 or 101 miles depending on which way you go, and it would take 1:39 or 1:41, respectively. You could be in Iowa at Diamond Jo Casino by driving 107 miles in 1:45. Slippery’s Bar and Grill, made famous by Grumpy Old Men in Wabasha, is only 56 miles in an hour and 10 minutes, so you would have to continue down to Winona State and you still would only drive 88.7 miles in 1:42. Nearly all those trips are mostly done at 60-70 miles per hour.

Behind the wheel of a plow truck, you are not coming close to that speed with the plow down in residential areas. When they drive by the house, they look to be going at most, 20 mph, probably closer to 15. 105 miles at 15 mph would take seven hours to drive. According to the FAQ section on the City of Hastings website, it takes crews an average of eight to ten hours to have the roads cleared in town.

Priority plowing How does the city decide which roads are plowed first? The priority is emergency vehicle and higher volume routes, and they move to the ancillary streets and cul-de-sacs. Then repeat if needed. Their goal is to conduct operations consistently to increase efficiency. Meaning, they have a route they take each snow fall to help the driver be more efficient. Changing the route means drivers must stop and read the route sheet more often. The more you do the route, the more you can do from memory.

Safe distances When the plows are out, please, remember to keep a safe distance from them on all sides. These vehicles are huge, dangerous and have many blind spots. The blades can also kick up stones and ice, so keep kids away from the wake. This is also why they stay away from the curbs and mailboxes. It minimizes the risk of damage to property. It’s not always convenient, Snow Emergencies Snow emergencies take effect automatically when there is two inches or more of fresh snow. That means all vehicles need to be cleared from streets or they risk being ticketed and towed. The ticket alone is $77, the tow is significantly more. The city uses a service called Nixle to text alerts out to residents. It is a nice service that is free for residents and is not intrusive at all. Go to and with a few clicks you will be receiving the text message alerts. If you miss the snow emergency and end up getting towed, the city uses South East Towing located in the industrial park. Their phone number is 651-437-2446.

Sidewalks Who is responsible for sidewalks? The owner or renter of the property the sidewalk is on. Hastings has a simple city code for sidewalk snow removal. Code requires you to clear sidewalks on your property within 48 hours after the end of a snowfall for general public safety. If it has been over 48 hours and the sidewalk is not cleared, that can be reported to public works at 651-480-6185. Once reported, the homeowner will be notified to perform the work otherwise public works will clear the sidewalk and the homeowner will be billed.

Trash service During the winter, it is recommended that trash and recycle bins are left behind the curb line and not in the street as they cause issues for plows. Because of the wake that plows can cause, trash bins can get knocked over. If this happens, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to clean up any messes made. If possible, it may be best to bring the bins down just before the garbage trucks arrive if your street has not been plowed yet. Remember, the reach of most of the garbage trucks is under five feet and drivers usually stay a foot or two out in the street to avoid getting stuck or sliding into your property, so leaving carts behind the snowplow piles does not work.

Adopt a Hydrant Much like sidewalks, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to clear a path to the street from and at least three feet around any fire hydrant on their property. This is extremely important if the hydrant were needed. Remember, seconds count in an emergency. This is why Hastings has created the Adopt-a-Hydrant program. The program asks neighbors to help each other keep hydrants clear in the winter. Check with the homeowner that has a fire hydrant near you to see if they need help clearing it. Maybe because it is difficult for them or maybe because of the timing of the storm and they cannot get to it right away.

Postal Delivery For your carrier to get to the mailbox, you are required to give them a clear path. If you live on a walking route, consider clearing a path through your yard to give them the shortest route possible. If you have a mailbox at the end of the drive, clear some extra space around it to make their job a little easier. If you have a larger, neighborhood mailbox on your property, remember, you are responsible for keeping it accessible.

Winter is here, like it or not, be safe out there during your snow removal, shoveling is major exercise, so pace yourself. If it becomes too much for you, reach out to your neighbors.

At this reporters house in Hastings, there were two foot tall drifts in the back yard, a six inch drift blowing five feet in the back garage door and seven inches already covering the front yard just after midnight on Christmas Eve Morning. Photo by Bruce Karnick