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New York Mills water tower overflow creates ice sculpture

The New York Mills water tower overflowed late Sunday night, causing an unexpected ice sculpture to form.

NEW YORK MILLS - After last weekend's storm dumped nearly a foot of snow on New York Mills, freezing temperatures and a mechanical mishap created some unexpected winter water tower art.

A faulty sensor caused the New York Mills water tower to overflow late Sunday night, creating visually intriguing ice sculptures and good conversation over coffee at the Eagles Cafe.

A water utilities sensor located in the basement of City Hall, failed and set off an alarm indicating a problem. The city's answering service notified Roger Salo of the City Utilities Department, who discovered the problem around 1 a.m. The faulty sensor sent information to the pump station to continue pumping water into the tower even though the tank had reached capacity.

Pressure built and eventually released, sending water shooting out the top of the tower. Water cascaded down the side and quickly froze in the sub-zero temperatures. Water also flew across the parking lot and covered power lines and a transformer.

Salo said after discovering the problem he was able to override the system in the pump station to stop more water from going into the tank. The faulty sensor was replaced Monday morning.

The water tower's capacity is 150,000 gallons and Salo said the city generally keeps about 130,000 gallons in the tank.

New York Mills received an estimated 10 inches of snow Saturday and Sunday. City crews and private contractors began clearing streets and parking lots on Sunday and continued through Monday. Neighboring towns reported upwards of 12 inches of snow.

Aside from an overflowing water tower, things were pretty quiet over the weekend as residents waited out the storm. Jason Hoaby, NYM?Police Chief, said there were no weather-related car accidents or incidents to report.

Shoveling, snowblowing, pushing and plowing was on the agenda for most able-bodied souls, as the region dug out of the season's first blizzard.

Some meteorologists are calling it the worst blizzard conditions since 1996-97. Most of the area reported between 10 to 12 inches of snow, but it was the 30-plus mile per hour winds that really made the Dec. 13-15 storm hellish.

School closings

New York Mills, along with every other school in the area, was closed all day on Monday. Todd Cameron, Superintendent of Schools in New York Mills, first had school starting two hours late on Monday.

After contacting the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, Cameron learned the weather conditions weren't going to improve until later in the day.

Cameron looks at a number of factors, the biggest being the amount of snow and transportation - how effectively buses can move throughout the district. If the wind is blowing as it was Monday morning plows won't run on secondary roads, let alone township roads.

On Monday morning Cameron called board members DuWayne Roberts and Tim Kupfer, contacted transportation director Bob Theisen, and discussed the weather with area superintendents.

New York Mills will make up this snow day on April 9, which is the Thursday prior to Easter.