When the newsroom chatter turned to the astounding 49 inches of snow that hit parts of the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. this past weekend, one native Minnesotan facetiously wondered aloud what it would be like to live in a region that received large amounts of snow in the winter.
The wintry storm news from Philadelphia and Washington D.C. almost made Minnesotans nostalgic for the days when we would rev up our snowblowers the morning after a 10-inch dumping of snow to clear the driveways. (Snowblowers, for those with short memories, are those noisy little machines that have been gathering cobwebs in your garage for the last few years.)
Snowmobiling on the Paul Bunyan Trail, cross-country skiing in the Northland Arboretum, pushing a neighbor's car out of a snowdrift, all seem like pleasant memories from a distant past.
The snowfall totals in central Minnesota have been absolutely pitiful this year. Brainerd, as of Jan. 31, has had 10 inches of snow this winter. Normally this area has received more than 36 inches by that point.
The lack of snow has economic ramifications that go far beyond the devastating effect it's had on area resorts and snowmobile sales outlets. The dry conditions are expected to last into spring and that has farmers in the Midwest worried they'll face yet another dry summer. That would affect wheat and meat production and raise the prices we pay at the grocery store.
The Mississippi River, which is used to move grain to foreign markets, was reported recently to be at its lowest level since 1989 in St. Louis. That will force barges to cut the weight of their loads and increase the cost of shipping raw materials on the river.
Snow enthusiasts in the Midwest can only hope that the prolonged dry spell is part of a cycle which is about to be broken in late February or March. Maybe the old truism about blizzards arriving with the start of Minnesota's state basketball tournament will bail us out this year.
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