Mother Nature packs late-winter wallop
After a winter that has delivered plenty of cold temperatures, but not much snowfall, the Northland has been walloped two weeks in a row. First, there were three days of heavy snow Feb. 18-21 that dropped anywhere from 6-14 inches in Carlton County. Residents got busy again Sunday, Feb. 25, digging out from a storm system that dropped more than a foot of snow on parts of the region, although less than that locally.
Cloquet's Trent Issendorf took advantage of the mild weather Sunday to shovel off the back half of his roof, where the winds had drifted the snow as high as 18-24 inches in some places.
"I'm not sure it (the roof) could take any more snow right now," he said, tossing another shovelful of snow off the one-story house near Braun Park in Cloquet.
The latest round of winter weather actually began early Friday, Feb. 23, when most Carlton County schools were delayed two hours to give crews time to get the roads cleared.
The snow returned for round two later Saturday afternoon. Snowfall rates reached 1-2 inches per hour at times late Saturday and early Sunday, with wind gusts in excess of 30 mph.
According to Steve Gohde, the National Weather Service Duluth observing program team leader, the Cloquet Forestry Center reported a total of 17.3 inches in snow accumulation from Feb. 16-25, including both multi-day storm systems. Over the same period of time, the Duluth airport reported 22 inches.
For the latest snow storms, winds off Lake Superior late Saturday helped enhance the snowfall along the North Shore, which saw the greatest accumulations. The NWS received reports of 12.8 inches of snow just west of Grand Marais, 10.7 inches at Hovland and 10 inches at Finland.
In Carlton County on Sunday morning, spotters reported only about 5.5 inches in Cloquet, 7.7 inches in Wrenshall, 7.5 inches in Moose Lake, 6.4 inches in Mahtowa and 4.5 inches in Wright.
Gohde said Minnesota is going through a change in the weather pattern, with Mother Nature swapping the dry air mass from the Canadian plains that has dominated much of the winter with warmer wetter air mostly from the south.
"She is trying to be in equilibrium," he said, noting that it is not uncommon to get a big storm around the start of the basketball tournament season in early March.
Gohde said the NWS office is looking at possibly another "moisture-laden" storm system Sunday night into Tuesday of next week.
The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this story.