Wind chill follows in snowstorm's wake
A wind chill advisory is in effect 3-9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24. The weather service is tracking another system that could impact the Brainerd area Monday
BRAINERD — The Brainerd lakes area was on the edge of the snowstorm, which delivered solid double-digit snowfall totals farther south, and stayed that way.
The forecast noted the lakes area’s totals could be more or less depending on the storm’s final track with early forecasts putting the Brainerd region in the 7-12 inch range for snowfall.
Snow totals in the region ranged from 1.5 inches to 13.1 inches by Thursday, Feb. 23.
Snow whipped up by strong winds created difficult driving conditions for the morning commute and forced area schools to either delay starting, go to an e-learning day or cancel classes outright.
The winter storm , moving south to north across the state, started dropping snow in the Brainerd lakes area about 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22. By Thursday morning it had dropped more than 9 inches in Pine Center and 7 inches in Fort Ripley and Garrison. Bertha, in Todd County, had 13.1 inches of snow. Brainerd received about 5 inches of snow Wednesday night through Thursday morning.
Early in the year, snow lovers, if you under forecast, say, ‘Hey, where’s the snow? During this time of year people say, ‘That’s OK, we don’t need any more.
Steve Gohde, hydrology program manager with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said early snow estimates were based on very active storms in the southern U.S. but as it approached Minnesota meteorologists adjusted earlier projected totals down based on the updated models they were seeing.
“It was a complicated storm to start out in the first place,” Gohde said. “I think we ended up pretty close to where we were with our estimates.”
But that’s how it often goes in late winter, Gohde said, and residents of northern Minnesota probably didn’t mind seeing snow totals fall short of initial estimates.
“Early in the year, snow lovers, if you under forecast, say, ‘Hey, where’s the snow? During this time of year people say, ‘That’s OK, we don’t need any more,” Gohde said.
The challenge with this winter storm, Gohde said, was not the amount of snow that fell but the strong winds blowing it around, at times with gusts up to 30 mph.
Thursday morning in the Brainerd area, the Minnesota Department of Transportation asked motorists to travel with caution as roads were snow covered and blowing snow was prevalent.
To the south of Brainerd it was a different story. Because of snow on roadways and blowing snow, the Minnesota Department of Transportation advised no travel for a large portion of southern and central Minnesota Thursday morning, including in Mille Lacs, Morrison and Todd counties.
By Thursday afternoon, with snowplows out in force earlier in the day, MnDOT upgraded driving conditions on most area highways to normal with light snow still covering some roadways.
After the snow comes the cold.
The National Weather Service in Duluth issued a wind chill advisory in effect 3-9 a.m. Friday, with wind chills as low as 25 degrees below zero expected.
Cold wind chills are expected again tonight across all of northeast and north-central Minnesota. These wind chills last into early to mid-Friday morning. #MNwx #WIwx pic.twitter.com/0dti9UNy76— NWS Duluth (@NWSduluth) February 23, 2023
Winds overnight Thursday into Friday are expected to become calmer at 5-10 mph. While the high temperature is only expected to be 8 degrees Friday, a slight warmup should happen Saturday with a high temperature of 20 degrees and Sunday with a high temperature near 30 degrees. High temperatures into the early part of next week are expected to remain above 30 degrees.
However, the weather service is tracking another system that could impact the Brainerd area Monday with freezing rain and snow in the morning before switching to all snow in the afternoon.
“We’ve kind of got a short window,” Gohde said. “We get done with one, start focusing on another.”
Area snow totals
13.1 inches — Bertha
9 inches — Pine Center
7.8 inches — Malmo
7.5 inches — Fort Ripley
7 inches — Garrison
6.3 inches — Long Prairie
6.1 — Pillager
6 inches - 8 miles southeast of Brainerd
5.4 inches — Camp Ripley
5 inches — Brainerd, Little Falls, Flensburg, Onamia
4.2 inches — Casino, north of Pillager
3.8 inches — Nisswa
3 inches — Outing
2.9 inches — Crosby
1.5 inches — Wadena
1 inch — Palisade
As forecast, the heart of the storm struck the Twin Cities area with more than a foot of snow covering a swath of the metro area and points farther south with many locations listing 15, 16, 17 inches of snow. Apple Valley had 20 inches, Prior Lake had 17.5 inches, Burnsville had 16.9 inches, Minneapolis had 16.7 inches, North Mankato had 18 inches, and Faribault had 16.7 inches.
MATT ERICKSON, Editor, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5857.