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Weekend snowstorm sets records

Large waves break as they near Canal Park and an ice-encased bench along the Lakewalk Sunday afternoon. The city of Duluth recommends that people stay off the Lakewalk Trail in Canal Park because of icy conditions. Strong winds have caused the boardwalk, paved sections, benches and large boulders to be covered with thick layers of ice or slush, along with gravel and other debris. (Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service)

The endless winter was in rare form this past weekend when snowfall seemed endless as well.

In the Twin Cities, it was the biggest snowstorm of the season—and one of the top 20 snowstorms in Twin Cities history. In Duluth, giant waves painted the shore and everything near it in thick ice as waves slammed against shoreline.

And winter may not be over yet. More snow is in the forecast this week as much as 5-7 inches in southern Minnesota Wednesday and possibly an inch in southern half of Crow Wing County. Throughout April in the Brainerd lakes area, temperatures have been below normal, from 5 to 24 degrees below normal. The forecast calls for 50 degrees by the weekend and a potential snow-erasing high nearing 60 degrees Monday, April 23.

Snowfall totals from the weekend storm

20.5 inches—Montevideo,

18.5 inches—Plymouth,

17 inches—Minneapolis,

16.7 inches —Chanhassen,

15.8 inches—Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport,

15 inches—Fairmont,

14.6 inches—Sleepy Eye,

7 inches—Milaca,

6.5 inches—Little Falls,

6 inches—St. Cloud,

5.5 inches—south of Brainerd (2.5 inches was measured at the airport).

Interesting perspective

One of the highest wind speeds from the storm was 58 mph in Fairmont. Snow fell at rates of 1-2 inches per hour in Chanhassen with thunder reported.

The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities reported snowfall totals of 12-18 inches were common across the meto. So if a uniform 15 inches of snow fell across Minneapolis and St. Paul it would have a total volume of 3,992,883,750 cubic feet.

"If one were to take all of that snow and place it onto a 1 foot by 1 foot square area and it did not compact (which it absolutely would do in reality), it would pile up to a height of 756,228 miles, this would extend 517,328 miles beyond the moon, which is 238,900 miles from Earth."

Another weird fact was the historic snow coming 35 years to the day as another major snowfall in the metro, both on April 14, which had at least one Twitter post with a father and small son and cardboard sign to note the day of the big snowfall right next to the now grown boy 35 years later with a cardboard sign and with his own young son titled "History repeats itself."

Twin Cities

There's a strong likelihood of snow falling in the Twin Cities with the next storm, but there's a chance it won't accumulate if it comes late enough in the day, according to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen.

"That might be the last of the snow, but I feel like I've said that before this spring, so I kind of want to bite my tongue on that until the middle of May," meteorologist Jacob Beitoich said. "It's just been such a crazy last few days."

Southern Minnesota could see upwards of 6 inches this week.

After the snow Wednesday, temperatures in the Twin Cities are expected to gradually climb, reaching the upper 50s early next week.

The metro area could break another record if it doesn't hit 60 degrees by April 29—that's the record for latest 60-degree day, set in 1874.

"I think it'll be really tough to break that one," Beitoich said. "That's two weeks from now, and our normals then are around 60. It's not impossible, but I would be surprised."

The storm broke several records in southern Minnesota:

• Largest April snowstorm. The Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday storm total of 15.8 inches broke the previous record of 13.6 inches from 1983.

• Highest April monthly snowfall. The Twin Cities have received 26.1 inches so far this month, crushing 1983's record of 21.8 inches.

• Snowiest start to the calendar year. The previous record was 69.5 inches, set in 1982. This year, the Twin Cities have received 71.1 inches so far.

• Record low maximum temperature. The highest temperature Sunday was 28 degrees, breaking a record of 32 degrees set back in 1951.

• The snowfall was also the 12th biggest in Twin Cities history. This is now the 10th snowiest winter season on record with 78.3 inches (2017-2018). The top snowfall for the Twin Cities remains the Halloween blizzard with 28.4 inches in 1991.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported 630 crashes statewide between Friday at midnight and Sunday at 8:45 p.m. Three of the nearly 70 injuries were serious, and there were two fatalities.

On Friday night, a pedestrian, identified as 54-year-old Paul Michael Piekarski of Hamel, was fatally struck by a vehicle while crossing Minnesota 55 in Medina.

On Sunday night, a motorist was killed when a Metro Transit bus broadsided a car that had spun out on Interstate 94 in north Minneapolis. The bus, occupied only by the driver, hit the car on I-94 at Lowry Avenue, fatally injuring one passenger, 30-year-old Rashid Mohamed Faqid of Minneapolis. The car's driver and another passenger were injured. The bus driver was not hurt.

Nearly 1,200 vehicles spun out or went off the road, and 20 semis jackknifed, according to the state patrol.

About 750 flights were canceled out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which closed all its runways for eight hours on Saturday because of blizzard conditions.

The airport put out sleeping mats for as many as 500 people stranded at the airport. An airport spokesman estimated 100 people stayed on the mats, while the rest were able to make it to nearby hotels.

By Monday, all three runways were up and running all day, but ticketing areas were busy as people attempted to reschedule canceled flights, according to airport spokesman Pat Hogan.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Sun Country Airlines fliers were stranded in Mexico after the Eagan-based carrier canceled their weekend flights back to MSP because the storm coincided with the end of seasonal service to their vacation destinations.

The airline said it was compensating the passengers for the return portion of their fare, but fliers were on their own to book flights on other carriers.

Also, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Anoka-Hennepin and other school districts canceled or delayed classes Monday, citing snow-clogged roads.

Duluth

Although the storm was predicted to only graze the Twin Ports with snowfall, the flakes began to fall on Sunday morning, April 15, and didn't stop. Numerous videos of the giant waves by Duluth's Park Point were posted on social media and YouTube. Even as officials advised people to keep their distance from Lake Superior and not risk their lives to see the big waves, the lure was impossible for some to resist.

The National Weather Service reported that 8.5 inches of snow had fallen at its office in Hermantown by 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Some roads remained snow covered or impassable on Sunday evening and the Weather Service advised people to avoid road travel, especially in the Twin Ports and Northwestern Wisconsin, overnight Sunday. As of Sunday evening, the Duluth and Superior school districts along with Stella Maris Academy announced that Monday would be a snow day, while Esko and Carlton school districts announced a two-hour delay to the start of school.

Strong north-northeast winds and high waves continued into Sunday evening, causing lakeshore flooding. Despite the prediction that the wind and waves would begin to diminish Sunday night, the Weather Service advised the public to keep a safe distance from the lake, as damage to lakeshore infrastructure may be unseen and the freezing temperatures have caused the surfaces near the lake to become coated in ice.

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