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Warm and sloppy: Week ahead calls for rain and fog. Saturday’s high ends 59-day streak of below-freezing temperatures

People walk through Gregory Park at dusk Saturday, March 9, as the snow falls in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 3
Snow collects on a branch in front of the First Congregational Church Saturday, March 9, in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 3
A plow clears snow along Highway 210 Saturday, March 9, in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch3 / 3

A sloppy week may be ahead with melting, and rain or snow is forecast following another snowstorm that dumped more than half of a foot of snow this past weekend in the Brainerd lakes area.

“Saturday ended 59 days below freezing, and that is the third-longest stretch for Brainerd,” said Linda Engebretson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth. “The record is 69 days, which ended in February 1936.”

A winter storm warning went into effect noon Saturday, March 9, and ended 7 a.m. Sunday. Saturday’s daytime high was above freezing for the first time in months and melted some snow.

“The high temperature was 39 degrees, and we hit that at 4:30 in the afternoon -- right about the time the snow started or maybe a little bit earlier -- but essentially it stayed relatively warm all evening,” Engebretson said.

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“We’re looking at kind of a relatively warm but very sloppy week." - Linda Engebretson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth.

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The Brainerd lakes area received about 7 inches of accumulation as of 1 p.m. Sunday while Deerwood received 9 inches of snow and topped out the list of most snow in reported areas. The 7 inches of snowfall recorded in Brainerd Saturday made for a daily snowfall record for March 9.

“It didn’t go back below freezing until 7, almost 8 p.m. Saturday. And no matter what, here we are staying above 30 all the way past midnight,” she said. “And that just produced a lot of very wet, heavy snow.”

Before the snow started Saturday, it was expected snow accumulation totals would range from 6 to 8 inches by Sunday afternoon, with the Brainerd lake area among the regions forecast to have the most snowfall along with northwest Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities tweeted: “If you had less snow than you were expecting, it's because a warm layer lasted into the evening in eastern MN and western WI. This melted the snow flakes. You lost a few inches of snow to cool rain.”

Engebretson said, “The air temperature down below was above freezing, but above that is colder, and so where the snow forms, it’s plenty below freezing.”

Travel was difficult Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning due to reduced visibility and snow-covered roads, and gusty winds developed Sunday after the snowfall ended.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported 173 crashes (18 with injuries but none serious or fatal), 284 spin-outs or vehicles off the road, and 10 jackknifed semis from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday statewide. Crow Wing County snowplows began plowing at 4 a.m. Sunday.

Heavy, wet snow may damage trees and could lead to power outages, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth, which predicted a warmup for the middle of the week, which will lead to snow melting and periods of fog.

“We’re looking at getting a bunch of warm air moving into the area this week ... so Monday night, we’re going to probably get a bunch of fog in here as warm air moves in, and as soon as you put that over the top of snow coverage, it tends to make a bunch of fog,” Engebretson said.

The National Weather Service in Duluth tweeted: “Rain and snow will spread into the region, and Thursday could see mostly rain. There could be street flooding.”

“We’re looking at kind of a relatively warm but very sloppy week,” Engebretson said of the forecast.

Even though spring begins next week, Engebretson said she has seen it snow when temperatures were in the low 40s, so those who believe the snow will stop falling with the official end of winter just because of a rise in temperatures are sorely mistaken.

“I’m reminded of April of 2013. I was just about to move up here, and we had 50 inches of snow in Duluth in April of that year, and so you know we’re not done yet. It’s not quite spring yet, but we’re getting there,” she said. “The light’s at the end of the tunnel.”

Frank Lee

Voted most likely in high school ... "not to be voted most likely for anything," my irreverent humor (and blatant disregard for the Oxford comma) is only surpassed by my flair for creating online videos to accompany my fact-based, unbiased articles about Crow Wing County, for example, such as how your taxes are spent. Writing local feature stories about interesting people in the community, however, and watching and discussion movies are among my passions.

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