The record-breaking winter continues.
A snowy, blustery storm blew through much of the state over the weekend, disrupting traffic and catapulting Brainerd’s snow total for the season to 44.3 inches since a fraction of an inch kicked off the winter snowfall in mid-October. The average snow total for this point in the winter is about 25 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth.
Friday’s weather broke two records, shattering a 53-year-old snowfall high with 7.6 inches falling in Brainerd Jan. 17, compared to the previous high of 3 inches on the same day in 1967. The liquid equivalent precipitation hit 0.65 inches for the day, breaking the previous record of 0.33 inches 70 years ago in 1950.
January as a month may step into the record books by the time it’s over as well, with 12.9 inches falling in Brainerd since the beginning of the month — about double the average for this point. The average total snowfall for the month overall is 23.64 inches, with 2019 setting the record with nearly 37 inches.
Josh Sandstrom, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth, attributes most of the snow accumulation this winter to frequent snowfall events and a couple big storms, namely this past weekend’s system and a Thanksgiving storm around late November and early December.
Sandstrom said the lakes area’s experience is no different from the rest of the state, with no area he is aware of seeing below average snowfall this year.
“I think we’ve all pretty much been above average this year, mainly due to that big storm we had at the beginning of December,” he said. “That brought everybody pretty high, and then we’ve just had a good session of storms since then to keep adding on to it.”
Statewide, the Minnesota State Patrol reported 732 crashes between 5 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17, and 6 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 19. Those numbers include 71 injury crashes, one of which was fatal, when a snowmobiler died after colliding with a truck in Aitkin County. More than half the crashes — 341 — took place between 6 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
State patrol numbers also showed 760 vehicles spun out or went off the road during the same time period and 31 jackknifed semitrailers.
The agency warned drivers all weekend via its Twitter page of hazardous driving conditions, noting troopers respond to an average of 50-75 crashes across the state each day, though those numbers can jump exponentially during winter storms.
During winter weather, the state patrol advises drivers to slow down and increase their following distance, turn their headlights on and cruise control off, use caution around snowplows, check road conditions at 511mn.org before leaving and following “no travel advisories” when issued.
Temperatures are expected to drop early in the week, with Monday expected to top out in the low teens. The middle of the week should warm up, with high temperatures on Wednesday predicted to rise above freezing.
Lakes area residents should be able to put the shovels and snowblowers away for a time as well, as Sandstrom said any coming storm systems should be pass by to the southeastern portion of the area. Brainerd itself may see either light snowfall or a touch of mixed precipitation at the end of the week.