Just when a warm-up offered a respite from an extended cold snap, the other shoe may be dropping in the form of freezing rain.
The lakes area winter seems stuck in two refrains — either freezing rain or just plain freezing. Both are in the forecast the coming week. Central Minnesota is included in a hazardous weather outlook indicating a wintry mix has the potential to make driving conditions challenging. Sunday night, the Minnesota Department of Transportation was advising against travel on numerous roads in the southern half of the state due to freezing rain and ice.
The State Patrol reports hundreds of crashes and spinouts as a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow made travel difficult across much of southern Minnesota.
Lt. Eric Roeske says 240 crashes were reported between noon and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, with 36 injuries, though none seriously. He says another 152 vehicles went off the roads or spun out, and one semi jackknifed.
A National Weather Service spotter reported 2 inches of snow on top of a tenth of an inch of ice in St. Paul.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation recommended no travel across a large part of southeastern Minnesota, including portions of Interstates 35 and 90. MnDOT also reported difficult driving conditions throughout the Twin Cities and along I-94 and I-35 west and north of the metro area. Travel in the Brainerd area was listed as good Sunday afternoon.
Lakes area residents may wake up to freezing drizzle and patchy fog Monday morning. Just how much precipitation falls in a wintry mix of freezing drizzle, rain, sleet or snow will depend on a few temperature degrees either way.
But whatever falls later on Monday may leave a lingering impression as a blast of arctic air causes temperatures to drop.
Dan Miller, National Weather Service meteorologist in Duluth, said it’s a typical winter cycle of Alberta clipper bringing in some snow followed by a cold snap. But Miller said the cold coming this week shouldn’t be as deep as last week.
“We’re expecting another storm, not a big storm, but another storm Monday afternoon into Tuesday,” Miller said. If the mixture changes over to snow, a band through the lakes are could bring a couple of inches.
Miller said whatever happens Monday night will freeze as temperatures for the rest of the week will be colder than normal, potentially making roads a bit slick. Morrison County Sheriff’s office reported some roads were a little slippery with patches of freezing rain.
The chance for freezing rain, snow and sleet continues into the day Monday, with a high of 32 degrees expected. As Monday wears on, the National Weather Service reported the chance for a wintry mix moved from just a chance to a likely event with expectations for precipitation rising to 70 percent by Monday night.
A light wind should be coming from the southeast. Chance for snow continues, at 50 percent, into Tuesday, mainly before noon. The warmth continues with a high temperature of 29 degrees Tuesday. But expect Wednesday’s high to be 20 degrees colder.
After four mild days, the weather service expects temperatures to drop back to colder than normal. Wednesday’s high may reach 9 degrees and the low may fall to 10 below. Thursday’s high may fall short of reaching zero and drop to about 20 below overnight. Friday is forecast to be sunny and cold with a high near 5 degrees.
But temperatures may rebound for the weekend with highs of 16 to 23 degrees beneath partly sunny skies.
After sub-zero and single digit highs for the past week, the temperature in Brainerd started rising Saturday getting warmer throughout the night, finally shooting up to 32 degrees Sunday afternoon for a short time. The normal high for this time of year is 21 degrees with an overnight low of 4 below.
Miller said in the near future, it looks as though that pattern of clipper event and cold will continue. And historically, Miller said it wasn’t that cold last week by Minnesota standards, it’s just been a number of years since residents have experienced it.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)