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Watch that step: Freezing rain in forecast Tuesday morning

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news Brainerd, 56401

Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Light freezing rain or sleet could arrive overnight to make Tuesday morning a bit on the slippery side.

Most of the freezing rain is expected north of Brainerd. It will all depend on how quickly the lakes area warms as overnight temperatures hover around the freezing mark.

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The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for southern Cass, Crow Wing and northern Aitkin counties noting the potential for light snow, freezing rain or sleet across much of the northland.

Tuesday’s high is expected to rise to 36 degrees. The warming trend is forecast to continue through the week with a high near 40 on Wednesday. Temperatures will moderate slightly lower for the weekend, but should still remain in the low 30s.

If it seems anti-winter for this date, it is. The normal high the last day in January is 22 degrees, but extremes have come on both sides of the thermometer. The record high for Jan. 31 is 48 degrees in 1993. The record low a shattering 46 degrees below zero in 1996. The record snow depth for Jan. 31 was 35 inches in 1969. Last year at this time, the snow depth stood at 18 inches, from NWS records.

To date, the Brainerd area is almost 17 inches below the normal snowfall for the season. Snowfall records for Brainerd go back to 1948. Duluth is 36 inches below average.

Average snowfall for Brainerd:

• 9 inches in December.

• 11 inches in January.

• 6.8 inches in February.

• 9.5 inches in March.

• 2.9 inches in April.

• 44.1 inches for the winter season.

So far this season, December produced a little more than 2 inches and January had 5 inches. Rick Hluchan, meteorologist at the NWS in Duluth, said the entire state — with the exception of the southeastern most boot — is in a moderate drought with some parts already listed as severe drought.

Hluchan said there haven’t been many years in Brainerd where the snowfall measured in the teens or lower. And just to prove the older generations’ claims of great amounts of snowfall in the past, Hluchan said there were numerous years in the 1960s and 1970s when the season’s snowfall total was 75 inches.

There is still a chance for significant snowfall, and while a weather service model is hinting at the possibility of snow for the weekend, the current forecast is clear for the next week.

A strong westerly flow continues to bring in mild Pacific air.

“It still could come back, but (there’s) nothing in the near future,” Hluchan said of the colder temperatures. “We’ve hit our lowest of low, I guess you could say, so now our average temperatures are starting to rise — so highs and lows are headed up now anyway.”

With the west wind, the cold air has been locked away in Canada and Alaska. Hluchan said central Alaska has a low of 60 below zero.

“Until we get a pattern change none of that can make it this way,” Hluchan said. There is a chance for a glancing blow of cold air next week as winter chill is expected to ooze into the Lower 48, affecting the eastern part of the nation toward the middle of February.

The lakes area might get cold for a few days and then warm up.

“Kind of like what we’ve been already having,” Hluchan said. “We’ll still have chances of snow here, but as far as the really cold weather, it doesn’t seem to want to stick around this winter.”

As for the continued snow drought, Hluchan said it’s hard to imagine going through the remainder of the winter without a bigger snowfall. Although spring, which officially arrives in 49 days, could bring snow.

Looking back at the previous largely snowless winter of 2006-2007, Hluchan said that season had more snow at this point. And that March brought in two blizzards in a row to make up for the earlier months.

“It would just be remarkable if this winter would continue the way it is going,” Hluchan said. “It can still happen. We do get big storms in March and April and sometimes into May. We do have still plenty of winter left.”

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com.

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