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Winter arrives in the Northland, at last

An unidentified Cloquet letter carrier braves blowing snow and a cold wind Friday to deliver a package to a central Cloquet home. Jamie Lund/jlund@pinejournal.com 1 / 3
Tom Martinson shovels the last of the snow off the steps leading to his home on the shore of Big Lake in Cloquet, having waiting until Saturday dawned bright and sunny after Friday’s mix of wintry weather. Jana Peterson/jpeterson@pinejournal.com 2 / 3
A layer of snow makes an early Christmas wreath look even more festive. Jamie Lund/jlund@pinejournal.com 3 / 3

After an unseasonably warm autumn, winter arrived in the Northland with a vengeance Friday, dropping snow on top of rain and freezing rain, which made for hazardous driving and heavy wet snow.

Just ask Tom Martinson, who was out shoveling “lead” from the steps leading from the road up to his home on Big Lake. Counting the steps that also go from the back of his house to the lake, Martinson said he has a total of 76 steps to shovel.

“If I do ’em all,” he said with a chuckle.

Snow totals from last week’s storm varied wildly. Leader reported 25 inches by Saturday afternoon, Grand Rapids 17.5, Wright 8.1 inches and Mahtowa 5.5 inches. The Duluth airport reported 3.5 inches and Esko 2.3 inches. Unofficial estimates in Cloquet were closer to four or five inches but blowing and drifting snow made it difficult to tell.

Martinson was ambivalent about the arrival of snow and colder temperatures.

“It’s winter,” he said. “I’d rather it be summer, but then I’d be mowing.”

With snow coming down as motorists hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation encourages drivers to plan ahead and check road conditions before they travel.

“Our snowplow operators are out there cleaning off the roads and trying to make it a safe holiday for everyone,” said Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “Please check on the road conditions before you leave and be safe on the roadways as we begin the holiday season.”

MnDOT urges drivers to use the 511 traveler information system website and phone app to plan their travel. The system provides road and winter driving conditions for the entire state and links to National Weather Service information. The system is available at www.511mn.org or by dialing 511. Motorists can also download the free 511 app on their smartphones and other mobile devices.

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