Olmsted County Sheriff Declares State of Emergency (UPDATED)
Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson has declared a state of emergency because of today’s blizzard. The declaration requests assistance from the National Guard in rescuing stranded motorists. Officials have indicated county plow crews have been pulled off roads because of drifting snow and whiteout conditions. No travel is advised.
The City of Rochester has given notice that it’s plowing operations will be suspended at 4 PM because the drivers have been on the job for 16 straight hours and require rest. The crews plan to resume plowing at Midnight and the city is asking everyone to remove their vehicles from city streets to assist the snowplow drivers and to ensure there is enough room for emergency vehicles to navigate.
The Rochester Public Library is closed and the Rochester Airport has halted operations until conditions improve.
*Correction- It was previously reported the Rochester Salvation Army Warming Center would be opening at 7 PM this evening. Those plans have been canceled due to the state of emergency.
Dodge County will also be suspending plowing at 4 PM. Sheriff Scott Rose says most roads are impassable and are expected to remain that way through the night with the strong winds forecast to continue past Midnight.
Governor Tim Walz earlier declared emergencies in Steele and Freeborn Counties because of the storm. Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag says his office conducted motorist search and rescue operations throughout the night and today using a tracked ATV that can transport 5 people at a time.
The National Guard has also deployed a tracked vehicle to perform rescues and deliver stranded motorists to the National Guard Armories in Albert Lea and Owatonna.
At last report, the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Department had rescued 25 motorists and the National Guard had rescued another 30. 3 other motorists in Freeborn County were rescued by the State Patrol.