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John Myers, Forum News Service, Published April 19 2013

Biggest snowstorm since 2009 shuts down much of Duluth area

DULUTH, Minn. - A massive winter storm shut down much of the Northland early today, dumping up to 22 inches of snow over three days, closing schools and clogging side streets, driveways and sidewalks.

Many side roads remain impassable this morning, and gusty winds are blowing snow back onto once-cleared roadways.

Lake-effect snow may continue today along Wisconsin’s South Shore, and a band of moderate snow continued to fall in Carlton, northern Pine, Douglas and Bayfield counties at mid-morning, but little additional snow is expected in most areas.

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

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 are closed, 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.

Cornucopia and Two Harbors set the standard with 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 18 inches and Hibbing 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. 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.