Snowfall in Alger county is at a seasonal average with some spots reporting up to 170 inches of snow. However, snowbanks are higher than normal this winter because the deep freeze has prevented any melting.
Snowbanks across Alger County are several feet high. It's not from above-average snowfall, it's due to the extreme cold temperatures.
"Normally we come to expect a January thaw, people call it, or even a warming trend in late December, and this year we just haven't had that. The snow is just piling up, piling with no settlement," said Bob Lindbeck, Engineer Manager, Alger County Road Commission.
Munising has around 140 inches of snow while Grand Marais has more than 170 inches for the season. Some banks are already four feet high, quickly approaching six feet, creating a nuisance for drivers.
"Snowbanks reach a height that a driver cannot see over them at an intersection with the highway or with other roadways. Then, it becomes a real safety issue for people to pull out," Lindbeck explained.
Now the Alger County Road Commission is having to use snowblowers and graders two to three weeks ahead of schedule to cut down the banks. They are taking down two to three feet off of snowbanks. The cold temperatures have also increased sand usage on roadways.
"We've already used the same amount of sand that we've used all last winter, and we're only at about 40 percent of our salt usage, as compared to all of last winter," Lindbeck said.
So far they have used more than 2,100 cubic yards of sand. Officials say that's about 210-220 sand trucks and estimate they will be using a lot more for the rest of the season.