Jan 5, 2023 - News

Storm dumps 14" of snow on the Twin Cities

snow piles next to a toddler

Piles of shoveled snow reached heights taller than a toddler in a dino hat. Photo: Torey Van Oot

Shovelers across the Twin Cities are waking up to a peak Minnesota problem Thursday morning: We're running out of places to put all this damn snow.

What's happening: The latest winter storm system dumped another 14.9 inches — more than an average January's worth of snow — at MSP Airport over two days.

Why it matters: While we don't mind the winter wonderland vibe, the heavy snow once again derailed travel, school, garbage collection and more.

State of the streets: Minneapolis and St. Paul waited until Wednesday to call snow emergencies. Snow piled up on side streets and caused plenty of cars to get stuck Tuesday morning.

  • Those of you who ventured out probably saw (and hopefully helped) neighbors fruitlessly spinning their wheels.

What they're saying: Minneapolis spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie told Axios that while the city had plows out Tuesday, its practice "is to declare a Snow Emergency at the end of a snow event to get the most out of the three-day process." She added that the city wanted to give people plenty of time to move their vehicles.

  • St. Paul Public Works cited a similar rationale. Spokesperson Lisa Hiebert told Axios city plows wouldn’t have been able to break from the main roads to clear residential side streets even if a snow emergency had been called sooner, given the duration and volume of snow.

The big picture: All told, the Twin Cities have been hammered with more than 47 inches of snow so far this winter.

  • That's 20 inches above what’s normal for this time of year and just a few inches shy of the average total for the entire season, per stats compiled by meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

Driving the weather: Big swings in temperature, fueled by climate change, have put Minnesota in the "line of fire for storm tracks," Sundgaard explained.

  • "This is a place where big swings are fairly normal but not to this frequency, and not to this extent," he says.

What we're watching: We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we're not even at the halfway point of winter: Historical weather data suggests the cities could see another 20 inches (or more!) before spring.

Yes, but: Sundgaard said it would be "very unusual" for this level of precipitation to persist for the next three-plus months.

  • "Our snowiest seasons… have snowier periods and quieter periods,” he said. “So will this continue through March? Probably not."

Be smart: The snow, combined with rain and sleet in recent weeks, have done a number on roads and sidewalks.

  • So walk, drive and ride with caution: While conditions have improved, there's ice under the snow in many spots.

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