Really? More wintry weather in the forecastWith this month on track to be one of the snowiest Aprils on record, it seems Mother Nature didn’t get the note about the change in seasons. Just look at the snowfall totals for evidence: normal snowfall for April is 6.9inches — as of Monday, the Northland had seen 23.9 inches according to the National Weather Service.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
With this month on track to be one of the snowiest Aprils on record, it seems Mother Nature didn’t get the note about the change in seasons. Just look at the snowfall totals for evidence: normal snowfall for April is 6.9inches — as of Monday, the Northland had seen 23.9 inches according to the National Weather Service.
The snow got so heavy in Cloquet last Thursday that the local postmaster called letter carriers off the street because of whiteout conditions.
“It was the first time that’s happened in five or six years,” said letter carrier Lance Wuolett Friday morning, as he trudged through drifted snow so high that it occasionally crept inside his knee-high boots. Wuolett said he was running late halfway through his route, because it was hard work getting through the snow.
The snow was falling so fast — and blowing sideways much of Thursday— that many Northland businesses and all Carlton County schools closed early, including all Carlton County offices and courthouse.
Postmaster Sue Lindquist said pulling the letter carriers (and their white vans) off the street was a safety issue.
“You couldn’t see in front of you,” she said, adding that she evaluates on a snowstorm by snowstorm basis. “It was the worst I’ve ever seen it. I wouldn’t want anyone to get hit or fall down.”
With another wave of snow, sleet and rain a possibility for Wednesday night through Friday, Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande said people need to avoid unnecessary travel when conditions are bad.
Even if it is spring.
“It was a dangerous storm [last Thursday],” Lamirande said. “People need to exercise good judgment in conditions like that. If you don’t have to travel, simply wait. We get enough advance forecasts now, you can get your eggs, milk or movie before the storm hits. Then just stay home. And get your car off the street so the plows can do their work.”
Last Thursday was a busy one for the Cloquet Police Department. Officer Kerrick Johnson said there were nine accidents in town between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with no serious injuries. Johnson responded to five of those himself. One was a “triple” accident, in which a car coming down Big Lake Road slid into another car, which slid into a third car.
“Some people were driving a little too fast for conditions; others were more visibility issues,” Johnson said. “We’re lucky we didn’t have a lot of our usual calls — I think people just hunkered down at home.”
Across the state, the spring snowstorm was blamed for more than 700 accidents, including a double fatality in Duluth Friday.
It’s not over yet.
As the Pine Journal went to press, the National Weather Service was expecting precipitation — in the form of rain, sleet or four-plus inches snow — to move into the region Wednesday night and last through much of Friday.
“Multiple periods of wintry weather will continue over the western Lake Superior region through Friday,” the winter storm watch notice stated.
But exactly where the rain-snow line will develop, and what areas will see the heaviest snow, “we’re unsure yet,” said Carol Christenson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth.
“That’s why we’re being very wishy-washy with this forecast,” Christenson said.
Forecasters are confident it’s going to be a large, long event, but not exactly the precipitation type.
Areas to the north, such as International Falls, should see only an inch or two of snow while, to the south, the Twin Cities will see all rain.
And to cap off the latest in a seemingly endless round of winter storms, Saturday morning could bring record-cold temperatures for parts of the region. Duluth’s current record low for April 20 is 14 degrees, “and we could beat that,” Christenson said.
Duluth (where the NWS office is located) has seen 102.5 inches of snow so far this year — nearly 70 inches of that in February, March and April — to rocket into 14th on the all-time snowiest list, although well behind the record of 135.4 inches set in 1995-96. It also could be the latest ever that 20 inches of snow has been on the ground. The old record was April 15 in 1975 and 1950.
But a warm-up is in the forecast, with highs in the upper 40s early next week and maybe 50s for the last weekend in April. There’s still no mention of 60 degrees, though. We haven’t seen it that warm since Oct. 16.
There’s a chance of lighter rain or snow early next week. But there’s also a chance, Christenson noted, that this storm could be the last of the big snow events that have made it a very wintry spring.
“Let’s hope so,” she said.
The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this story.