Snow to bury parts of north-central US in first days of spring

·3 min read

Despite astronomical spring's arrival Monday, the hits from winter will keep coming for parts of the United States that have been buried under heavy snow this season. So much snow has fallen across some areas in the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest that one city could set a new benchmark for its snowiest March on record -- and the winter as a whole is ranking among the snowiest ever for some locations.

A storm that wreaked havoc on the western U.S. over the weekend will shift into the Plains as the week progresses. As it encounters colder air, it will produce a strip of snow from the Dakotas to the Great Lakes.

A widespread swath of a few inches of snow is expected from northern Wyoming to southern Ontario, Canada. The heaviest snow, however, will encompass much of North and South Dakota throughout the day Tuesday before the snow expands into Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Michigan into Wednesday.

"The storm may end up with two bull's-eyes of snow in Minnesota, one across the north-central part of the state, and the other along the North Shore of Lake Superior," AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz explained.

In these zones and southwestward to the North-South Dakota border, 6-12 inches of snow are possible.


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Even just a couple of inches of snow can make for slippery conditions on untreated roadways. In locations likely to see plowable snow, travel could be even more disrupted, particularly along parts of interstates 29, 35 and 94. Strong winds could create even more hazards for drivers, leading to reduced visibility with wind-driven snow.

It has already been quite the snowy winter across this area of the country.

"This winter in Duluth, Minnesota, is closing in on being one of the top-five snowiest ever on record and one of the snowiest March ever," said Benz.

Through March 21, Duluth has recorded 122.5 inches of snow, currently ranking the city at the sixth snowiest snow season. This next storm could raise that number above the winter of 1996-1997, when the city reported 128.2 inches, pushing this winter season into the top five.

The city's current snowpack is also remarkable, with 34 inches of snow on the ground as of March 21. Earlier this month, Duluth's snowpack peaked at 37 inches, the deepest snowpack since the winter of 2004-2005.

Kids shovel snow off a sidewalk and driveway Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Just one inch of snow from this next storm would make this month at least the fifth-snowiest March on record. The snowiest March in Duluth was in 1919, when 48.2 inches of snow was recorded.

Minneapolis has also reported snowfall above its historical average so far this winter.

As of March 21, the city has reported over 80 inches of snow, more than 30 inches above the historical seasonal average to date. That amount already makes this snow season one of the top 10 snowiest on record. An additional inch of snow with this next storm would push this season into the top seven, beating the winter of 1961-1962, which reported 81.3 inches through the end of the season.

The extraordinary snowpack across parts of Minnesota on the first week of spring may inflict even more damage later in the season.

"Very little of this winter's snowpack has melted across the Red River Basin, and adding snow at the end of March is not what you want to see this time of year," Benz warned.

The longer the snow sticks around this area, the greater the chances for rapid snowmelt and flooding when the temperatures eventually climb above freezing.

In the 2023 U.S. spring forecast released on the first of February, AccuWeather's long-range meteorologists highlighted an elevated flooding risk in the area.

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