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Snow offers possibilities, pain; Forecast shows promise for skiers, danger for drivers

The National Weather Service’s winter storm warning issued for today says Austin and its surroundings will likely see between 4 to 6 inches of heavy, wet snow. Along with the dangers that presents, there are also possibilities. Here are 10 things to know about the storm:

1. Southeast Minnesota could win the snowfall derby

Northern Minnesota is expected to get 3 to 6 inches while the southeast likely will be between 4 to 7 inches. It’s not like the northerners will really care. So far this winter, Duluth, for example, has seen 35.4 inches of snow. In Austin, we’ve seen 3.2 inches.

2. This storm could open the door for cross country skiers

Just last week, the Damman Cross Country Ski Race at the Jay. C. Hormel Nature Center had to be canceled because of the lack of snow. If the snow accumulation is on the higher end of the range being predicted, the Nature Center might be able to pack and groom its trails for classical skiing going into the weekend, according to naturalist
Maria Anderson, who updates trail conditions online for the center.

On Tuesday, Anderson reported, “What little snow cover we had on the trails is melting and mushy.”

The nature center offers free use of skis and snowshoes on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. if conditions allow.

3. A record is possible

The record snowfall for this date is 4.5 inches and that was in 1991.

4. State Patrol is trying to head off problems

The State Patrol sent out extensive winter driving tips on Wednesday to media outlets to share with the public. It includes a link to a video “Winter Road Danger: Multiple MSP Squad Cars Hit.” Three Troopers talk about their squads being struck during the last snow event, in December. Move over a lane when you see flashing lights on the side of the road.

5. Pack for the weather

A winter survival kit for your car should include: boots, jackets, gloves, blankets, a cellphone charger, flashlight with spare batteries, bottled water and snacks, booster cables, basic tools, sand or cat litter, a red bandana, a pencil and paper, according to the State Patrol.

6. Be ready to stay put

Stranded drivers should stay in their vehicles to stay sheltered from the elements, according to the State Patrol.

7. Not quite Mars

The Mars Curiosity rover indicated that the high temperature on its little corner of the red planet was 11 degrees below zero Fahrenheit on Jan 7, the most recent date with data available according to NASA. The low was 110 degrees below.

The temperature swing the Austin area is expected to see is a much smaller 12-degree drop, from 19 above  to 7 below.

8. Really not Texas

The forecast today for Austin, Texas, is mostly sunny with a high of 65. A flight from Rochester to Austin, Texas, will cost you between $300 and $460, according to Google Flights.

9. Throws faster than wind

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum throws the football faster than the 30-some mph wind gusts the Austin area will experience today. At the 2012 NFL Combine, Keenum’s ball velocity reached 55 mph.

Former Viking Christian Ponder threw 51 mph.

10. Where you can park

If necessary, snow emergencies are declared by the Austin Engineering Department. It will contact the media and law enforcement, among others, and put the alert on social media.

When a snow emergency is declared, parking is prohibited on city streets and in city parking lots.

In the following days, parking is allowed on even-numbered sides of streets on even-numbered dates and odd-numbered sides on odd-numbered dates.