Winter keeps its icy, white grip on region

Wet, heavy snow blankets Valley; more weekend rain in forecast

The electronic sign at Lake Elmo Bank on South Greeley Street, top photo, flashes the cold truth about Thursday afternoon’s temperature as snow starts falling. An SUV, photo above, splashes wet snow as it travels west on Minnesota 36 at the Osgood Avenue intersection Thursday afternoon, several hours after snow started falling in the Stillwater area. The heaviest reported snow in Washington County was 9 inches in the Forest Lake area. (Gazette staff photos by Erik Sandin)

An SUV splashes wet snow as it travels west on Minnesota 36 at the Osgood Avenue intersection Thursday afternoon, several hours after snow started falling in the Stillwater area. The heaviest reported snow in Washington County was 9 inches in the Forest Lake area. (Gazette staff photos by Erik Sandin)

St. Croix Valley residents spent this morning digging out from the second spring snow storm in three days that dumped wet, heavy snow on the region.

As the low-pressure system that brought the latest round of snow and cold moved east, a National Weather Service winter storm warning for the region expired. But strong north winds are expected to cause blowing snow today and make travel difficult in some areas.

Meteorologist Joe Calderone with the NWS Chanhassen office, said this latest storm followed forecast models by dumping heavy snow from Redwood Falls through the western Twin Cities and north to Duluth. Ten- to 12-inch snowfall was common in the western metro suburbs and more than 20 inches was reported in the Duluth area, Calderone added.

“We didn’t see a lot of snow there,” he said about the Valley. “We didn’t get a lot of snow there because there wasn’t a lot with the system there.”

Snow started falling shortly after noon Thursday, about 90 minutes before Washington County sounded severe weather warning sirens as part of the state’s annual Severe Weather Awareness Week Tornado Drill Day. Warning sirens were sounded again shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday as snow continued falling.

The Valley saw snow showers Friday morning and Calderone said that activity would slowly end this afternoon as the low moved east. But he added the 20 mph north winds, with gusts up to 30 mph, would cause problems for the afternoon commute.
“It may reduce visibility, but not as bad as yesterday,” he said.

The region will see a short break from what has been a wild start to spring weather with sunny skies, but Calderone said yet another system will be mixed precipitation to the Valley late Saturday and Sunday, including a chance of thunderstorms Sunday afternoon and evening.

The one piece of good weather news is that daytime temperatures will climb to the upper 40s and 50s early next week, Calderone said.

“We’re going to try to see, on Sunday and Monday, highs in the upper 40s and 50,” he said. “Overall, we’re going to remain below normal. “Temperatures will get milder, but we’ll still remain below normal.”

Calderone said the normal high for mid- to late-April is around 60.

The extended outlook for the Stillwater area through mid-week calls for precipitation each day with highs in the middle 40s to low 50s and lows in the middle 30s.
Calderone also said NWS long-range forecast models indicate that Thursday’s storm might be the last spring snow storm for the region.

“We’re not seeing any indication over the next seven days of anything like this. What we’re seeing on the models; no we’re not seeing anything like this,” he said.

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