Biggest snowstorm since 2009 buries much of Northland

John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Snowfall amounts

A massive winter storm buried much of the Northland early today, dumping up to 23 inches of snow over three days, closing schools and clogging side streets, driveways and sidewalks.

Some side roads remain unplowed and difficult for driving this afternoon., and gusty winds are blowing snow back onto once-cleared roadways.

Lake-effect snow continues along Wisconsin's South Shore, where another 6 inches of snow is possible through tonight. Minnesota's Cook County also reported continued snowfall, with another 3 inches expected there before the storm finally winds down. A winter storm warning remains in effect for those areas until Midnight.

Earlier today the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported that plow drivers were having a hard time clearing roads because of the compacted nature of the snow and icy conditions underneath, and because roads were blowing over after being plowed in some areas. State transportation officials urged people to avoid travel if possible, but if you must travel please drive slowly and be patient

The Minnesota State Patrol reported more than 50 vehicles off the road in the Duluth metro area alone on Thursday and early Friday, with 14 accidents with damage, including one with an injury.

The storm also cut electricity for more than 6,000 Minnesota Power customers for a time Friday morning in and around Duluth, although power was restored quickly in most areas.

In a month in which Northlanders have grown accustomed in recent years to seeing robins and daffodils — and maybe playing a round of golf — the Duluth airport is now reporting 28 inches of snow on the ground, the most since January 2010 and maybe the most ever reported in April.

With 120.3 inches fallen so far, this season is now the fifth-snowiest winter in recorded history in Duluth.

And on Saturday morning we’ll probably see all-time record-low temperatures for April 20, with a blast of cold air into the low teens by sunrise.

Most schools closed Friday, except the University of Minnesota Duluth and the College of St. Scholastica said they would open at 10 a.m. The Duluth Transit Authority continues to operate, though buses might be late. Some offices, including St. Louis County, are open but are short-staffed with many employees unable to get to work.

Babbitt set the standard with 23 inches reported. Cornucopia and Two Harbors reported 22 inches of snow during the storm that started Wednesday evening and that was lingering Friday morning. The National Weather Service in Duluth reported 17.7 inches so far, the largest snowstorm since Christmas, 2009 when 23 inches fell at the airport.

Superior reported 20 inches, Eveleth had 18 inches and Silver Bay more than a foot. Farther north, International Falls recorded less than 2 inches.

Duluth smashed the old record for April snowfall, formerly 31.6 inches set in 1950, with 41.7 inches fallen so far.

Saturday should be sunny, with highs in the 40s. But a snow-rain mix is expected Sunday, and another major storm is possible Tuesday. There’s hope for a gradual warm-up next week, but still no 50-degree highs, which would be normal for this time in April.

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