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Winter won't quit

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Winter may have just two days before spring officially begins, but it doesn’t appear to be ready to give up its grip.

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Today’s winter storm may bring 5-7 inches of fresh snow to the Brainerd lakes area along with gusty winds, which could combine for difficult driving conditions. Snowfall could be heavy this morning. The storm, which generated a winter weather advisory Sunday night, may be upgraded to a winter storm warning today depending on conditions. The winter weather advisory is in effect until midnight.

Dean Melde, National Weather Service meteorologist in Duluth, said expected winds — gusting to 25 to 30 mph — could have put the region in line for a blizzard warning if the landscape were more open. The trees typically make a blizzard warning an unlikely event in Brainerd. But winds today are likely to limit visibility with the falling snow on top of a considerable snow pack.

Melde said the weather service models indicate 5-7 inches of snow — from late Sunday night into an all-day snow storm today— are likely. Some areas may receive even more. Total snow amounts will depend on the storm’s lasting power.

The heaviest snowfall should be this morning.

“That’s when the bulk of the snow is going to fall for the Brainerd lakes area and then the wind is going to pick up,” Melde said.

Unseasonably bitter air dropped the temperature to a frigid 15 below zero early Sunday morning.

Last year at this time, the state was setting record high temperatures on a daily basis. This year, St. Patrick’s Day parades traveled on snow-covered roads with children bundled against a chilly day with plenty of sun but little warmth with temperatures in the teens. The March 17 record high was set last year at 76 degrees.

The record high for March 18 is a summer-like 73, also set in 2012. Snow depth? There wasn’t any.

March of 2012 rewrote the record books as new records for high temperatures were set. Four of the top eight warmest days on record for the month came during this week a year ago.

Those records don’t have anything to worry about from this frosty March, which is struggling to hit normal highs. By this time of year the temperatures should be pushing 40 degrees.

Melde said the existing snow pack is one of the reasons the temperatures were able to drop so low overnight along with light winds and clear skies. The normal low this time of year is 18 degrees.

Melde said looking at the extended forecast doesn’t provide a lot of relief from the cold as a big warm-up isn’t indicated. Melde also said the hope is that once it does start to melt, it doesn’t happen all at once.

For shovelers, the good news is this latest snowfall shouldn’t be the heavy spring variety. But it may not be as fluffy as the snow from last Friday. Melde said to expect something in between.

With this late season winter storm the existing snow pack doesn’t appear to be ready to recede anytime soon. Snow was expected to start after 11 p.m. Sunday with steady temperatures of 24 degrees and gusting winds of 25 mph to make it feel colder.

Blowing snow may also be an issue for travelers with difficult, if not dangerous, conditions on the roadways. The National Weather Service in Duluth, noted visibility may be dramatically reduced in exposed areas, including Brainerd, with the combination of gusty westerly winds and lingering snow.

By this morning, residents may be waking up to 3 to 5 inches of snow if the storm track holds true. Wind gusts may increase during the day Monday, up to 30 mph, with additional snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches.

The chance for additional snow is expected to decrease tonight into early Tuesday with a 20 percent chance of snow before 1 a.m. The overnight low is expected to drop to 2 degrees.

Tuesday should be mostly sunny with a high near 20 degrees. The rest of the week is quiet, according to the forecast, with no snow expected but no warm-up either.

It could be Friday before the high may reach 30 degrees. By Saturday and Sunday, the temperatures could at least be above freezing and into the mid-30s.

When this latest storm is done, central Minnesota may have 5-7 inches of snow on top of the existing mounds. The heaviest snowfall may be to the north with 7-10 inches in the north central part of the state, including International Falls.

On the bright side for those anxious for spring, Melde said the three-month outlook indicates a better chance for temperatures above normal in March, April and May.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852
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