Winter has returned.
A week after sunny skies and above normal temperatures that peaked close to 50 degrees melted ice and snow, a slow moving storm late Sunday and early Monday brought in replacements.
Brainerd, at the northern edge of the system, got about 5.5 inches of snowfall. In southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, there were numerous reports of more than a foot of snow, topping out at 19 inches in Madison in Lac Qui Parle County.
It didn’t measure up to southern Minnesota totals, but the snowfall in Brainerd was enough to create headaches for morning commuters.
As a winter weather advisory continued until 6 p.m. Monday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported difficult driving conditions all on major highways in the Brainerd area.
Along with reduced visibility because of winds gusting up to 20 mph at times, motorists were advised to watch for blowing snow, packed snow, drifting snow and plowed snow on roadways.
“Be prepared for snow,” each advisory stated while detailing driving conditions on Highway 371, Highway 10, Highway 210, Highway 6, Highway 25, Highway 18, Highway 169 and Highway 27.
The State Patrol reported troopers had responded to numerous vehicles in ditches, especially on Highway 371 near Little Falls. The problem, a State Patrol radio dispatcher said, were at roadway curves.
Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Sgt. Andy Galles said the heaviest snowfall was in the southern part of the county. He noted that Fort Ripley had about 5 inches of snow early Monday and Breezy Point had perhaps an inch.
There were few weather-related traffic issues Sunday night and early Monday morning, Galles said. Late Sunday deputies and the State Patrol responded to a jackknifed semi-truck on Highway 371 in Fort Ripley among a few other reports of vehicles in ditches.
“People are being pretty cautious,” Galles said. “There have been no major crashes.”
Topping area snowfall totals reported to National Weather Service offices in Duluth and Chanhassen was 10.3 inches measured by an observer seven miles south of Hillman in Morrison County. Snow totals in other area cities reported to the weather service included 8.1 inches in Bowlus, 6.5 inches in Little Falls, 6 inches in Onamia, 5.5 inches in Brainerd, and 3.5 inches in Pillager and Long Prairie.
Roman Berdes, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said the Brainerd missed out on more snow because of a strong high pressure system over southern Canada that pushed dry air into the northern U.S.
“It was a pretty good, powerful system but the gradient between light and heavy snow was just over Brainerd,” Berdes said.
Skies are expected to clear Tuesday, with a high temperature of 23 to 28 degrees and south winds 10 to 15 mph in the weather service’s forecast.
Berdes said a clipper late Tuesday and into Wednesday could bring another chance of snow, though nothing significant was expected at this point. Wednesday’s forecast calls for high temps of 30 to 35 degrees and a 20 percent chance of snow.
The forecast for the rest of the week calls for high temps of 20 to 25 degrees on Thursday, 11 to 16 degrees on Friday, and 18 to 23 degrees on Saturday and Sunday.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.