Snow fun

People take the ski lift up Sundown Mountain Ski Resort on Tuesday west of Dubuque.

The latest winter storm dumped 5.8 inches of snow on Dubuque late Monday and early Tuesday.

That gave Dubuque 37.8 inches of snow for the season — the vast majority of which has occurred in 2019.

The city’s official measurements are taken at Dubuque Regional Airport, but by mid-afternoon Tuesday, about 7.5 inches of snow was reported by a trained spotter just outside of the city.

In southwest Wisconsin, the storm dropped 7 inches of snow on Platteville and 6.4 inches on Lancaster. East Dubuque, Ill., received 6.3 inches.

In November and December combined, Dubuque saw just 6.3 inches of snow. But the city received 24.3 inches of snow in January and has recorded measurable snow on six of the first 12 days of this month.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” said Dubuque Public Works Director John Klostermann. “Every storm has had its own personality this year.”

Cramming so much winter into such a small window has far-reaching impacts. For example, salt has become a precious commodity, with most area retailers reporting a dearth of it.

“Because there’s so much snow so fast, (it’s tough to keep up),” said Bob Schmidt, who owns Gasser Hardware & Farm Supply. “(Retailers) like us only warehouse so much. You’re not going to have over a year’s supply sitting around.”

By this time in the winter season, Dubuque historically has averaged 28.5 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

In a typical full winter, Dubuque records about 42 inches of snowfall. Last winter, Dubuque received 38.2 inches.

Schmidt said the problem with the salt supply primarily lies with the manufacturers. Most were unprepared for the spate of snow and ice, leaving them unable to quickly fill orders, he said.

“We can pick up a load of salt with 24-, 48-hours’ notice and keep our store supplied, but then the manufacturer (can’t keep up),”he said, noting, “They’re doing their best.”

There’s little danger — for now — that the City of Dubuque will run out of the salt used for roadways. While about 4,000 tons have been used this winter, the city still has about 8,000 tons, according to Klostermann.

“Once we get into March, we use quite a bit less salt,” he said. “Temperatures are usually more in our favor. Even though we get snow and will continue to use salt, we’ll use less than we did in January.”

The snow has been a boon for a certain adrenaline-loving demographic.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Mark Gordon, general manager of Sundown Mountain Resort outside of Dubuque, on Tuesday. “We’ve had some very, very, very happy customers this morning. Skiers and snowboarders love fresh snow.”

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