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A one-two punch: As Brainerd residents dig out Friday, potential for more snow Saturday

This time, it lived up to expectations. A winter storm rolled across most of Minnesota Thursday night and Friday morning, dropping several inches of snow--matching what was anticipated in weather models and forecasts. In the Brainerd area, snow a...

A student boards a Reichert Bus Friday morning on Crow Wing County Highway 13, east of Nisswa. Brainerd schools were delayed for two hours because of the heavy snow, which fell overnight and into Friday morning. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
A student boards a Reichert Bus Friday morning on Crow Wing County Highway 13, east of Nisswa. Brainerd schools were delayed for two hours because of the heavy snow, which fell overnight and into Friday morning. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

This time, it lived up to expectations.

A winter storm rolled across most of Minnesota Thursday night and Friday morning, dropping several inches of snow-matching what was anticipated in weather models and forecasts.

In the Brainerd area, snow amounts reported to the National Weather Service in Duluth ranged from 4 to 8 inches. Topping the list was 8 inches near Barrows and 7.9 inches reported in East Gull Lake, followed by Brainerd with 7.6 inches and Baxter, Fort Ripley and McGregor with 7 inches of snowfall.

And if that wasn't enough snow, don't worry-a second snowstorm is expected to arrive Saturday night.

Meteorologist Mike Stewart said the NWS anticipates a snowfall of 5-7 inches to hit the Brainerd area Saturday night into Sunday morning. Stewart said this storm will also hit most of the state.

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Storm No. 2 is expected to move northward into the western Great Lakes and has the potential to bring another 6-12 inches of snow to most of the Northland. A winter storm watch has been issued for much of the region from Saturday night into Sunday. Travel is expected to be difficult Saturday night and Sunday, with snow-covered and slippery roads.

The counties of Cass, Crow Wing and Aitkin will all be in a winter storm watch in effect through Sunday morning.
"(The Brainerd area) had four snows in the last week, but the snowstorm (Thursday overnight into Friday) was the biggest snowstorm so far this year," Stewart said. "And the second storm coming we will receive as much as we did in the overnight storm. We have a little break to clean stuff up. ... The heaviest snow will be along I-35 and up the North Shore. This second storm is hitting most of the state again."

Stewart said the western portion of Crow Wing County will see up to 5 inches of snow and the eastern portion will see up to 7 inches of snow.

Snow is likely to begin after noon Saturday, with a 70 percent chance of precipitation with new snow accumulations of less than 1 inch possible. By Saturday night, snow will begin to become heavy at times, with a 90 percent chance of precipitation. Stewart said the snowstorm is expected to continue through early Sunday morning.

The first snowstorm made a mess of the Friday morning commute. Brainerd schools were two hours late, and there were numerous reports of stuck vehicles.

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol northeast region public information officer, said from midnight to 2 p.m. Friday, the state patrol's Brainerd District-which consists of the counties of Cass, Crow Wing, Aitkin, Morrison, Mille Lacs, Hubbard and Kanabec-had seven property damage crashes, five minor injury crashes and eight vehicles off the road. The Brainerd District has five stations, including the Brainerd Station, which saw one property damage crash and three vehicles off the road.

The state patrol responded to two personal injury crashes Friday from which people were transported to a hospital. The first crash was reported at 6:18 a.m., when a Mack Truck with a snowplow was attempting to turn right from Highway 371 to Walker Bay Road, in Walker, when a Pontiac G6 passed on the right and struck the plow blade.

The driver of the Pontiac, Courtney M. Mason, 48, Minneapolis, and her three passengers-Leah N. Brumback, 19, Bemidji; Cassandra R. Thunder, 47, Minneapolis; and Corey M. Thunder, 17, Bemidji-were all transported to the Sanford Hospital in Bemidji with non-life-threatening injuries.

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The driver of the truck, Neil A. Lange, 49, Walker, was not injured.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office assisted the state patrol at the scene.

The second crash was at 10:28 a.m. and involved two vehicles in Morrison County on Highway 10, near 68th Street in Bellevue Township. The state patrol reported a Malibu and an Uplander were both traveling south on Highway 10, when the Malibu attempted to make a lane change and sideswiped the Uplander, causing both vehicles to enter the median ditch.

The drivers-Mark A. Rau, 34, Brainerd, driving the Malibu, and Ali Omar Ali, 54, Waite Park, driving the Uplander-were not injured. Ali's passenger, Sharif O. Bakari, 24, Wadena, was transported to St. Cloud Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office didn't respond to any personal injury crashes as of 2 p.m. Friday.

"Typically after a snowfall such as the one we received overnight, the sheriff's office is inundated with traffic-related issues and calls," Crow Wing County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Denny Lasher said. "Drivers took their time, proceeded with caution and drove appropriately for road conditions. As the end of winter approaches and spring arrives, there's obviously still a good chance for sporadic snow and ice storms.

"The sheriff would like to remind commuters to not lose focus on winter driving conduct as we move into the next season. When we forget and don't use caution as these types of storms and road conditions become less frequent, is when life-changing events occur on our roads. Please

drive with care throughout the year."

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"Please slow down and increase your following distances," Dickenson said. "Clear all your windows on your vehicle prior to driving and make sure you turn on headlights when it is snowing and reduced visibility. Also make sure your tires have good tread depth and pay attention at all times while driving."

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported Friday morning most highways in the Brainerd area were partially covered with snow, ice or slush and were slippery. By noon, however, roads began to clear, aided by clear skies, a bright sun and temperatures pushing past 30 degrees.

Temperatures through Sunday are anticipated to be in the high 20s, then reaching the lower 30s Monday through Thursday.

Winter driving tips

• Avoid driving while fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.

• Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

• Make certain the tires are properly inflated.

• Never mix radial tires with other tire types.

• Keep the gas tank at least half-full to avoid gas line freeze-up.

• If possible, avoid using a parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.

• Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface.

• Use a seat belt every time.

(Source: AAA)

Tips for driving in the snow

• Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

• Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning-nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give enough time to maneuver by driving slowly.

• The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds in snow. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed to stop.

• Know the brakes. Whether they are antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of the foot on the floor and use the ball of the foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

• Don't stop if it can be avoided. There's a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If possible to slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.

• Don't power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before reaching the hill and let that inertia carry the vehicle to the top. Once the crest of the hill is reached, reduce speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.

• Don't stop going up a hill. There's nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before taking on the hill.

• Stay home. If it's not necessary to go out, don't.

(Source: AAA)

A string of cars follow a Crow Wing County snowplow on County Highway 13 early Friday morning in Nisswa. Central Minnesota was blanketed with a layer of new snow with close to 8 inches reported in East Gull Lake. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
A string of cars follow a Crow Wing County snowplow on County Highway 13 early Friday morning in Nisswa. Central Minnesota was blanketed with a layer of new snow with close to 8 inches reported in East Gull Lake. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

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