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Major spring storm threatens to drop heavy snow April 11

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A major late season snowstorm promises to extend this endless winter with vigor.

In Brainerd, the snow is expected to begin in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 11, and pick up by midmorning. By the end of the storm, there could be as much as 6-7 inches of snow in the Brainerd area.

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“It’s going to be a wet, heavy snow — like concrete,” said Kevin Kraujalis, meterologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth.

Heavy, wet snow, the kind that bends shovels, snaps branches and power lines and makes for daunting driveways was expected with the brunt of the storm striking Thursday before diminishing Friday, April 12.

North and west of Brainerd, the anticipated snowfall decreased to 2-5 inches and farther south it increased to 10 inches or more.

The massive storm system churning across the nation’s midsection was creating powerful thunderstorms and potent snowstorms. Kraujalis said these types of spring storms thrive on temperature extremes, with 20s in the north and 80s in the nation’s capital and more than 100 degrees in Texas.

On Tuesday, April 9, there were blizzard conditions in Colorado and Wyoming and Nebraska. AccuWeather reported 50 mph winds created 9-foot snowdrifts and interstates were shut down. Rapid City, S.D. received 20 inches of snow, a single day all-time record. The temperature difference went from 12 degrees in Cheyenne, Wy. to 108 degrees in Laredo, Texas. Storms produced hail up to 2 inches in diameter and 65 mph wind gusts.

In anticipation of the snowfall here, the Minnesota Department of Transportation temporarily closed the ramp from Opportunity Drive to westbound Interstate 94 in St. Cloud on Wednesday, April 10. The ramp will reopen April 15, weather permitting.

Southwestern Minnesota was already feeling the storm’s effects Wednesday. An ice storm toppled a radio tower in Worthington.

Freezing rain coated trees and power lines in ice, knocking out electricity for thousands in Rock and Nobles counties. A hospital was depending on generator power and other residents from an assisted living center were evacuated to a nursing home with a generator. Cots and recliners were set up in the chapel in the Tuff Memorial Home in Hills in order to accommodate the evacuees.

In Worthington, city crews were working to clear streets of fallen branches and debris before it snowed — potentially as much as 9 inches. Predictions for snowfalls across the southern part of the state ranged from 8-14 inches.

The massive storm prompted a winter storm warning across most of the state from the southern border and angling to Duluth. Morrison and Mille Lacs counties were in the warning for heavier snowfall amounts, while Crow Wing, Cass, Todd and Aitkin counties were in a winter weather advisory. The storm may drop nearly a foot of snow or more in northwestern Wisconsin.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed an emergency executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard to assist with emergency relief services in response to the winter storm conditions in the southern part of the state with widespread power outages and dangerous travel conditions.

For the northeastern part of the state, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported road conditions for the morning commutes will likely be OK in most locations. But “getting home — not so much.”

Snow, accumulating on trees and power lines may result in power outages here, as was seen earlier in the southern part of the state.

Sioux City, Iowa, set a new record for precipitation Tuesday, April 9, not as significant for its amount but for the duration of the record. Sioux City had 2.33 inches of precipitation, breaking a previous record of 1.41 inches set in 1913. The Twin Cities notes this storm had the potential to be in the top 10 for heaviest April snowfalls there.

If Brainerd does see the anticipated 6.2 inches, this storm would tie for 16th for the most snowfall. On April 3, 2007, 12.1 inches of snow fell in Brainerd. To get in the top five, this storm would have to produce 8.7 inches of snow, matching the total from an April 27, 1969 storm.

So while snow, and plenty of it, isn’t unheard of in April, this year seems extreme based on recent history.

“A lot of people are ready for spring and they are really going to be ready after (Thursday),” Kraujalis said. For those dreaming of summer or just spring temperatures, dreams will be the only place to find them. Kraujalis said it might be the end of April before temperatures are even near normal highs. The extended forecast continue to call for below normal temperatures.

Kraujalis said the record-setting warmth of the last year’s spring spoiled us.

“And here we are in April talking about snowstorms.”

This story contains information from The Associated Press.

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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