News Column

Snowstorm Catches Up to Northland, with a Bang

Feb 11, 2013

Andrew Krueger

It took its time getting here, but when Sunday's winter storm finally arrived in the Northland, it didn't waste any time getting down to business.

"It went from nothing, and got bad within a half-hour," said Dean Melde, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth. Snowfall rates were in excess of an inch an hour at times.

The sudden burst of heavy snow in the afternoon clogged streets, canceled some flights to and from the Duluth International Airport and caused difficult driving conditions across the Northland. Gusty winds, especially in Duluth near Lake Superior, caused a lot of blowing and drifting snow.

Jim Hansen, public information officer for the Duluth Police Department, said that while there had been multiple reports of vehicles in ditches or stuck in the snow, the number of accidents remained modest as of early Sunday evening, and he was not aware of any serious injuries.

"We're fortunate this didn't happen on a weekday. If today was a weekday, this storm would have smacked us pretty good right during the afternoon commute," he said.

Duluth police and the Cloquet Police Department late Sunday afternoon advised no travel in their respective cities unless absolutely necessary, until plow crews started full operations early this morning. Plows

focused on main arteries Sunday, and were set to turn their attention to side streets today.

The Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation reported hazardous driving conditions across the region late Sunday. In western Minnesota, some highways -- including parts of Interstate 94, U.S. Highway 10 and Minnesota Highway 210 -- were closed Sunday amid blizzard conditions.

There was some freezing rain and sleet mixed in with the snow at times, too -- especially across Northwestern Wisconsin and south toward the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport saw numerous flight delays and cancellations on Sunday, and both Minneapolis and St. Paul declared snow emergencies.

Storm Winding Down

Many parts of the Northland saw a half-foot of snow or more through Sunday night, with the region's snow champ being the aptly named Leader, in Cass County, at 11 inches. There was a report of 9 inches near Grand Rapids, 7.7 inches in West Duluth and 7.5 inches at Chisholm. Snow continued to fall across the region late Sunday, especially in areas north of Duluth.

While winter storm warnings remained in effect for all of the Northland on Sunday night, Melde said there was a good chance they'd be scaled back overnight or early today. Any additional snowfall today is forecast to be light, with only minor additional accumulations -- giving Northland residents a chance to dig out from the drifts of wet snow.

Looking ahead, there will be a chance for some more light snow by midweek, but there are no major storm systems on the horizon for the rest of the week, Melde said.

Move Your Vehicles

The timing of Sunday's snowfall complicated the weekly alternate-side parking switch in Duluth.

Hansen stressed the importance of people who are parked on city streets switching sides as required by law. On Duluth streets with alternate-side parking restrictions, vehicles are to switch by 8 p.m. Sunday

"In conditions like these, it's more important now than ever that people are moving their vehicles," he said Sunday.

If vehicles are parked on both sides of a narrow street, city plows and emergency vehicles may not be able to get through, causing a serious public safety hazard.

Hansen warned that police will be ticketing improperly parked vehicles and arranging to have them towed, as necessary, this evening.

"We know it's cumbersome, and no one wants to be out there moving their car in a snowstorm, but we need people to do their part," he said.

News Tribune reporter Peter Passi and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2013 Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.)

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