It has been a winter wonderland in the Brainerd lakes area this week — and it looks like there is more to come — but first folks may have to brave the arctic air.
Temperatures Thursday, Jan. 16, may reach a high of 1 degree with wind chill values up to 30 degrees below zero.
The National Weather Service in Duluth issued a windchill advisory from 9 p.m. Wednesday through 10 a.m. Thursday for the lakes region, although the advisory times vary by county. A winter storm watch is in effect from 6 a.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Saturday — for Crow Wing, Aitkin, Cass, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties.
For Morrison County, the wind chill advisory is in effect from midnight Wednesday through 9 a.m. Thursday. For Todd and Wadena counties, the wind chill advisory was issued from 6 p.m. Wednesday to noon Thursday.
In fact, as of Wednesday night wind chill advisories covered nearly every inch of Minnesota. In a nutshell, the NWS reports wind chills may get as low as 35 below zero and total snow accumulations of 6-10 inches are possible, with winds gusting as high as 35 mph in the Northland. Snow is expected to develop Friday and continue into Saturday afternoon before decreasing. Snowfall amounts could be significant with 6 inches or more possible. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning and night commute with the dangerously cold wind chills able to cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.
Travel could be very difficult Friday and Saturday.
Capt. Joe Meyer with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office advises motorists to always drive with caution as it is January in Minnesota and driving conditions are never ideal. Meyer said even if the roads appear to be dry and clear, the freezing temperatures may still cause them to ice up pretty easily. Motorists are asked to drive with caution, to leave plenty of distance between vehicles and to allow more time when stopping at intersections.
“We ask people when driving to use common sense,” Meyer said and to slow down.
Mother Nature challenged motorists Wednesday — around midmorning into the afternoon — with low visibility and heavy snow. Crow Wing County didn’t have any personal injury crashes during this time, but had three vehicles off the road and one property damage crash on County Highway 3.
During the snowstorm, a semitrailer-tractor lost control and got stuck on the bridge on Mill Avenue in Brainerd, closing the bridge off to traffic for a short time. Outside of Brainerd, there were four to five property damage crashes on Highway 371 from Jenkins to Backus, according to the police scanner.
The Minnesota State Patrol Brainerd District responded to seven property damage crashes, two personal injury crashes and six vehicles off the road from midnight to noon Wednesday.
No one was transported to a hospital in one of the personal injury crashes. The other crash was off Highway 371 in Cass County.
The crash, reported at 9:56 a.m., involved a Toyota Rav 4, driven by Mark Standly, 68, Pine River, who had turned south on Highway 371 from Cass County Highway 44 in Wilson Township. While Standly was pulling out from a stop sign, he saw a Chevrolet Blazer, traveling north on Highway 371. The Chevrolet Blazer, driven by Austin G. Evenson, 19, Pequot Lakes, collided with the Toyota.
Strandly was transported to Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd for non-life-threatening injuries. Evenson was not injured.
“Please slow down when road conditions and visibility becomes poor,” Sgt. Neil Dickenson of the Minnesota State Patrol said. “Increase your following distances and leave early if you need to be somewhere, so you will not be in a hurry while driving. Also, please turn on your lights and clear snow/ice from all your windows on your vehicle prior to driving.
“Always wear your seat belt and call 911 if you are ever involved in a crash and advise the dispatcher of your location, if there are any injuries and if you will need a tow truck. Be patient as EMS will get to you as soon as we are able to.”
A weather spotter, 3 miles north of Brainerd, reported 4 inches of snow Wednesday. One mile north of Motley reportedly had 3 inches of snow; 4 inches in Leader; 3.3 inches 3 miles west of East Gull Lake; 3.5 inches near Pine River. Before Wednesday’s snowfall, Brainerd’s snow depth was at 16 inches.
The NWS reported Brainerd received 81.2 inches of snow in the 2019 calendar year.
Closer look at what’s coming
According to the NWS, wind chills were expected to be coldest Wednesday night through midmorning Thursday. During this time, Brainerd is expected to see a wind chill of 29 degrees below zero. The detailed forecast for Brainerd in the coming days includes:
Thursday: Sunny and cold with a high near 1, with wind chill values between 20-30 below zero. Northwest wind is expected to be around 5 mph. Temperature expected to rise to around 2 degrees by 5 a.m. Friday.
Friday: Patchy blowing snow between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. High near 23. Breezy with a southeast wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Low around 11 degrees with winds gusting as high as 30 mph at night.
Saturday: Snow mainly before noon, with an expected high near 20. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Blustery, with a low of 4 below zero.
Snow removal by Brainerd personnel in the Downtown Business District will commence at 3 a.m. Thursday. Parking will be banned on the following streets:
Front Street from South Sixth Street to South Eighth Street.
Laurel Street from South Sixth Street to South Eighth Street.
South Seventh Street from Maple Street to Front Street.
Parking is banned on streets until they have been plowed in their entirety, the city stated in a new release. All vehicles parked in other locations will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s
Clear the mailbox for the Postal Service
It takes more than a few flakes to deter letter carriers from making their appointed rounds throughout the Midwest and Upper Midwest, the U.S. Postal Service stated in a news release. “But, if we cannot reach your mailbox, we cannot deliver your mail,” Kristy Anderson, Strategic Communications Specialist, stated. “The Postal Service treats safety and service with equal priority. That’s why we remind you to include that mailbox in your snow removal routine.”
Letter carriers are on the front line of severe weather conditions. Doorstep deliveries, painted porches and steps quickly grow hazardous.
“While salting and rubber-backed mats help, we rely on you to clear the snow,” Anderson stated. “If there’s a warm spell, and the melting snow puddles, a quick freeze can make a sidewalk slick again.”
Residents who receive delivery to roadside mailboxes also must keep the approach to, and exit from, the mailbox clear of snow or any other obstacles, like trash cans and other vehicles.
“The carrier needs to get in, and then out, without leaving the vehicle or backing up,” stated Anderson. “The area near the mailbox should be cleared in a half-moon shape to give the carrier full visibility.
“Please watch for slow-moving postal vehicles, carriers on foot, and children that play near mailboxes or snow banks. And don’t zip by neighbors who are clearing mailboxes or collecting their mail. Let’s all stay safe.”
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.