Nearly two weeks since the first substantial snow of the year for Havre and the Hi-Line, the weather relented enough over the holiday weekend to allow some progress toward clearing the streets in and around Havre.
Despite early plowing, the snow on many of the roads was compacted by cars into a dense layer of ice.
The night after Thanksgiving, wind blew a lot of the snow into drifts in many places, recreating work for both the Havre Public Works department and the local office of the Montana Department of Transportation.
The city first started clearing its main, priority one routes: 12th Avenue, 17th Street, 10th and 11th streets by Montana State University-Northern, 13th Street on hospital hill, Beaver Creek Boulevard, Ridge Road and 1st Avenue.
The next priority for the city road crews was clearing the downtown area, by the post office, the county courthouse and many downtown business areas.
The next effort on Friday was to clear roads that being called in as problematic from residents around town.
This week the city has used its motor graders to break up the sheets of dense-packed snow and ice on the main streets, and is in the process of hauling the resulting piles with their three dump trucks.
Montana Department of Transportation has been trying to clear the state roads and U.S. highways 2 and 87, around Havre since snowfall began, but Mike MacDonald, the Havre office’s maintenance director, said that the winds have caused trouble.
“The wind has held us up here for a few days, but it’s clearing up,” MacDonald said.
He explained that MDT had made as much progress as it could through the last few weeks, but it was providence that did a lot of the work this weekend.
“We’ve got rid of most the ice on these roads up here,” MacDonald said. “We did run a motor grader out there, but mother nature helped us out a lot on Saturday and Sunday” with warm temperatures.
He said a lot of the difficulty with this situation came from the suddenness with which the weather changed. Because of the drastic temperature change earlier in the month, the precipitation changed from rain to slush to ice before he and his crew of 10 trucks were able to get most of it.
“That ice is so hard, it’s like a rock,” MacDonald said. “We just went through and got rid of the ruts.”
Both departments explained it’s another winter-time in northern Montana.