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Spring snow storm on track to hit Minnesota April 17-19

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A spring storm may add to snow shovelers’ woes as another system tracks into Minnesota.

The National Weather Service in Duluth reported a spring storm, which could be dumping a foot of snow in Colorado and the Rockies, should be moving this way. By Wednesday night, the storm may arrive in the Brainerd lakes area.

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Minnesota expects to see the same spring combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain from past storms.

“It will be all that and then some,” said Carol Christenson, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth.

The snow is expected to spread out from Wednesday to Friday. Whether it falls with such intensity as to cause white-out conditions on lakes area roads as it did last week remains to be seen. But it promises to be heavy, wet snow.

Early predictions for the Brainerd lakes area is about 5 inches of snow. Morrison County and Little Falls may get nearly 6 inches of snow and Aitkin County could get more than 6 inches. Smaller amounts of snow are expected to the north and west of Brainerd. A lot depends on the temperature and the exact path of the storm.

The southern shore of Lake Superior could get anywhere from 10 to 13 inches or more.

Christenson said the storm will be a long event with snow falling during the next three days. But Christenson said there is a lot of uncertainty with the storm and its path at this point.

A strong cold front in Texas is expected to move northward Wednesday. By Thursday morning, precipitation should cover northeast Minnesota, Christenson said.

A line cutting a diagonal path across Minnesota will mark the rain to the southern part of the state and the snow to the north. In between, is a belt of freezing rain and sleet.

By Friday, the low will have moved off into Michigan and snow should be wrapping around into Minnesota dropping additional snow. The Duluth area in particular is expecting lake effect snow Friday with strong 40 mph winds off the lake. Friday should also usher in unseasonably cold air.

“We are looking at record low temperatures Friday night into Saturday,” Christenson said.

The computer models show a lot of variation in the storm totals. In one scenario Duluth could get 16 inches of snow. In another model, it may receive 3 inches. That’s why, Christenson said, they are hedging their predictions.

Northwest Wisconsin may see a lot of ice accumulation with almost a half inch expected Wednesday night into Thursday.

Christenson said Thursday could bring a lull during the day before the storm wraps around and brings more snow through Friday.

If the predictions follow through, northeast Minnesota could get 4-6 inches of snow. Christenson said a lot of things have to come into agreement before the weather service will issue warnings and advisories for this storm system.

This week is supposed to be about thunderstorms and tornadoes with severe weather awareness week. Thursday is the statewide tornado drill. Crow Wing County sirens will go off at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. in a simulated tornado warning. The sirens are a reminder to have plans in place or practice for a spring-time or summer severe weather. Even if the weather will seem more like winter than spring, the weather service plans to continue with the drill. The sirens won’t be about a snow twister.

On the bright side, the longer term forecast indicates warmer weather will eventually arrive no matter how hard winter is working to extend its season. Highs during the rest of the week should remain in the mid-40s. But the low on Friday night could drop to 20 degrees, just 5 degrees warmer than the record low set on April 19, 1928.

The normal high by Friday’s date is 57 degrees. Last year, it was 52 degrees.

“On the horizon there is warmer weather coming,” Christenson said, noting the high on Monday could push 50 degrees.

At least it should be able to melt the new fallen snow, but it may take more than a few 50-degree days to make a dent in the lake ice.

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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