UPDATED: Winter storm blankets region; schools canceled or delayed

BEMIDJI -- Those who thought they'd already crossed the finish line in the marathon that is the 2018-19 winter were likely disappointed as a foot of snow piled up in less than 24 hours in the Bemidji area in mid-April.

Snow drifts formed along Third Street Northwest in downtown Bemidji. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Those who thought they’d already crossed the finish line in the marathon that is the 2018-19 winter were likely disappointed as a foot of snow piled up in less than 24 hours in the Bemidji area in mid-April.

The snowstorm began early Thursday afternoon. By a few hours later, officials were issuing no-travel advisories throughout the state, while, at the same time, trying to save numerous motorists who went off the road.

Although snow accumulations varied regionwide, the National Weather Service published one report of 12.1 inches on the north side of Lake Bemidji as of 7 a.m. Friday. Ten inches was reported in Cass Lake at 8 a.m. Friday. Eleven inches was reported in Bagley at 8:30 a.m. Friday, and 10 inches was reported just south of Blackduck in Hines at 6:30 a.m. Friday.

And, the snow was still falling Friday morning. The weather service said another 2 to 4 inches could fall throughout Friday.

The weather caused multiple closings and delays. The school districts of Bemidji, Cass Lake-Bena, Blackduck, Bagley, and Laporte closed their doors Friday. Both Bemidji State and Northwest Technical College delayed classes two hours.


Drivers were striving to adjust. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, there were 112 crashes, 163 spin outs, and 10 semis that jackknifed within a four-hour period across the state Thursday.  

At least some of those took place in Beltrami County. At 8:05 p.m. a vehicle went into the ditch in the 7200 block of Fairgrounds Road Northwest. At 5 p.m., officers came across a vehicle that was parked and left in the roadway with the flashers on near the intersection of Island View Drive and Irvine Avenue.

According to Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel, they contacted the owner of the vehicle and learned the driver became concerned with their driving and stopped until their spouse arrived.

Other reported weather-related incidents: At 4:54 p.m., officers found a car parked along the side of the roadway near Pinewood. At 4:14 p.m., there was a one-vehicle rollover near the intersection of Sunnyside Road and 30th Street Southeast. At 3:34 p.m., a vehicle ran into a fence in the 3300 block of Quincy Drive Southeast. At 3:38 p.m., two vehicles crashed near the intersection of Adams Avenue NW and 15th Street.

It wasn’t just Bemidjians digging their way out of the snow, however. There were 4.9 inches recorded at the Duluth International Airport as of 10 a.m. Friday. While Duluth may not have received quite as much snowfall as Bemidji, the winds were blowing a little harder. Reports indicated there were 71 mph winds on the Blatnik Bridge, which connects Duluth to Superior, Wis.

Grand Forks, N.D., had 6.1 inches of snow by Friday morning, with a couple more inches expected throughout the day. The good news there, however, was that the Red River was beginning to recede as the Red River Valley deals with spring flooding.

As inconvenient as the snow may have been for those in the northland, it was a far cry from the southeast portion of Minnesota. Thousands of residents were without power as more than 400 power lines went down as a result of strong winds and ice.

The weather service forecast for the area:


Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 41. Northwest wind around 9 mph.

Saturday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 20. West northwest wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 46. Calm wind becoming south southeast 5 to 9 mph in the morning.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27. South southeast wind around 8 mph.

Monday: A chance of rain and snow before 11 a.m., then a chance of rain until 1 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. South wind 8 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Monday night: A slight chance of rain, mixing with snow after midnight, then gradually ending. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. South wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 52. West northwest wind around 7 mph.



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