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Downtown workers such as Jay Stauffer were busy shoveling sidewalks Friday morning as the area received several inches of snow. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Location makes the difference this winter

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Location, location, location.

A band of heavy snow moved across the north woods Friday following a path from north of Grand Forks to Thief River Falls and through Bemidji.

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Under this band, 2-5 inches fell, with significantly lighter amounts to the north and south. The snow was the result of an Alberta Clipper system that tracked much further north than previous systems have this winter.

In its wake we can expect temperatures to be cooler than the last few days with lows possibly below zero Sunday morning. As has been the trend this winter temperatures should go back up next week. Look for highs around freezing for much of the work week. Typically high temperatures reach the upper teens this time of year.

Winter must be occurring somewhere, right? It's been in Alaska.

The average low temperature in Fairbanks this month has been 34 below. The average high there so far this month is 17 below - the same as the normal average low. Near the coast of the Arctic Ocean, the low temperature in Nuiqsut, Alaska, has averaged 55 below this week.

What a difference a year makes.

Last year at this time, the National Weather Service was forecasting a 90 percent chance of the Red River from Fargo to Grand Forks reaching major flood stage. This year that number is 1 percent. While flooding along the Red River has been common recently it is only necessary to go back to 2007 to see conditions similar to this year.

The north woods region, as well as much of Minnesota and the Dakotas, is experiencing moderate drought conditions. It is estimated that more than 5 inches of precipitation is needed in the Bemidji area to end the drought. This is the result of abnormally dry conditions that have persisted since last summer. The Climate Prediction Center's February forecast shows little change in the overall weather trend.

TOM SIEMERS is the Pioneer's circulation director.

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