A March snowstorm whipped through the Brainerd lakes area late Wednesday, March 10, and early Thursday, March 11, dumping almost a foot in the Pine River area and about 5 inches in the Brainerd/Baxter area.

But the snow isn’t expected to last long with warmer temperatures and sunny skies in the forecast. A high of 38 degrees is expected Friday and a high of 55 degrees on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth.

The storm hit the lakes area as rain, changing over as to a wintry ice and snow mix about 3 p.m. Wednesday. Wet, heavy snow continued through the overnight and into Thursday morning.

A snowplow with Holmvig Excavating plows Haven Trail in Unorganized Territory Thursday, March 11, after 5 inches of fresh snow fell overnight. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
A snowplow with Holmvig Excavating plows Haven Trail in Unorganized Territory Thursday, March 11, after 5 inches of fresh snow fell overnight. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Snow totals include:

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  • Pine River, 11.6 inches.

  • Embarrass, 11 inches.

  • Chisholm and Whipholt, 9.3 inches.

  • Leader, 9.2 inches.

  • Verndale and Wadena, 9 inches.

  • Crosslake, 6 inches.

  • Brainerd, Baxter and Pillager, 5 inches.

  • Motley, 4.3 inches.

  • Southeast of Brainerd, 3.3 inches.

  • Randall, 1.5 inches.

  • Little Falls, 1 inch.

The winter storm caused power outages over the lakes area and Brainerd Public Schools chose to go two hours late Thursday because of weather conditions.

Power outages

About 9,400 Minnesota Power customers — including in Crosby and Pequot Lakes — lost power after heavy, wet snow knocked down trees onto power lines.

“Our crews worked through the night and by 6 a.m., had restored power to all but 500 customers,” Amy Rutledge, communications manager at Minnesota Power, stated in an email. Minnesota Power was down to about 44 customers without power by 11 a.m. and only two by 4:30 p.m.

Rutledge stated the Crosby outage began about 8 p.m. Wednesday, affecting about 1,600 customers. A majority of those outages were restored by 11:30 p.m.

Outages along the Highway 371 corridor were reported at 8 p.m. Wednesday and the majority of the outages were in the Pequot Lakes area, with 500 customers losing power for about two hours. About 200 people lost power in the Cinosam Road area and their power was restored about 11 p.m.

“The crew left the area to respond to a tree on a wire when a second outage came in for Cinosam at 12 a.m. and it was restored at 2 a.m.,” Rutledge stated. “All causes were from heavy, wet snow, high winds and tree branches.

“Our crews in the field said the winds were an issue as well as the terrible driving conditions which slowed response times. We appreciate our customers’ patience as they worked in tough conditions to get the power back on.”

Buffalo Creek flows through south Brainerd Thursday, March 11, as fresh snow from Wednesday night borders the open stream. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
Buffalo Creek flows through south Brainerd Thursday, March 11, as fresh snow from Wednesday night borders the open stream. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd Public Utilities crews were out Wednesday night after a couple of trees came down on some service lines. The main two outages occurred along Highway 210 by Baxter Drive and South Eighth Street. Crews were first called about 7:35 p.m. to repair the outage and they finished up about 10:15 p.m.

“There were a lot of wet, heavy branches hitting our lines,” said Trent Hawkinson, BPU operations manager. “But our equipment did what it’s supposed to do. We did good, there were a lot of alarms.”

Hawkinson said all BPU customers saw their power flicker on and off a few times as the transmission line for the entire system was impacted.

“When they blink like that it’s because a tree or something is hitting the wire and either falling through the wire or the wire (is) burning it off and then it reenergizing itself again,” Hawkinson said.

Hawkinson said BPU had 13 customers with outages, which means the power was out for more than two minutes. He said the number of customers affected was minimal, as when a branch falls on a line it could impact 5,000 people.

Crow Wing Power reported no customers out of power overnight and only a small number on Thursday.

“We were good last night but we’ve just started seeing some outages pop up,” Char Kinzer, public relations manager at Crow Wing Power, said. “The outages are just starting to happen as the snow is heavy on the trees and falling on the power lines causing outages.”

Kinzer said about 11 a.m. Thursday they had 101 people out of power, mostly west of the Pillsbury State Forest.

A pair of white-tailed deer meander into an open area south of Merrifield Thursday, March 11, after 5 inches of fresh snow fell in central Minnesota. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
A pair of white-tailed deer meander into an open area south of Merrifield Thursday, March 11, after 5 inches of fresh snow fell in central Minnesota. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Emergency services/crashes

The Brainerd Fire Department was called to assist in some snow emergencies. Firefighters were called at 10:25 p.m. Wednesday, to the area of Cinosam Road and Ward Avenue north of Baxter for a tree on a power line on fire. Fire crews found a branch on a power line arcing and the utility company was called to take care of the issue.

Firefighters were called to two personal injury crashes Thursday morning. On Jackson Street, a vehicle went off the road and hit a tree. The second crash happened at the intersection of Laurel and South Sixth streets, and firefighters assisted the Brainerd Police Department. However, these crashes were not related to weather, according to the Brainerd Police Department.

Later Thursday morning, firefighters were paged to the intersection of Woida Road and Excelsior Road in Baxter to assist with cleaning the snow off the traffic lights. Several road signs and traffic signal lights along the highways were snow-covered, making it difficult for motorists to see during the morning commute.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office responded to a personal injury crash at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in Garrison Township caused by icy roads. The sheriff’s office also received numerous reports of vehicles in the ditch, some minor crashes Thursday morning.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported a broadside collision happened after a motorist lost control of a Chevrolet Malibu in slushy conditions while traveling south on Highway 169. The Malibu, driven by Todd P. Reineccius, 38, Princeton, was struck by a Pontiac Vibe, driven by Travis L. Wenzel, 19, Randall, who was traveling north.

Wenzel was not injured, but Reineccius was transported to Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia with non-life-threatening injuries.



JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.