A drastic change in weather over the course of the last week leaves various signs of its existence behind. It is hard to believe that just a week ago it felt like spring with temperatures nearing 50 degrees on February 16. All the snow was melting and all around the city, the sight of people walking around wearing big, bulky winter coats disappeared and were replaced with thin sweaters. Now the coats are back with hats, scarves and mittens as reinforcements against the 40 mph plus winds.
The Northland started off the week with a warm sunny day and entered the new week with cloudy skies and a bone chilling wind.
On Valentine’s Day, the sky was clear, the high was 39 degrees F and the wind never got above a moderate 14 mph breeze.
On Sunday, February 20, the high was 25 degrees F, but it was overcast and a blistering wind was whirling around at speeds of up to 50 mph.
The next day, the previous night’s storm began to dissipate with a high of 25 degrees F and winds at half the speed of the night before. The sidewalks were still fairly empty with the exception of the rare person tolerating the elements by going for a walk with their dog or jogging against the wind at a less than desirable speed. A few residents and visitors did manage to get out and see the storm’s damage down in Canal Park and Brighton Beach up the North Shore, but didn’t dare linger any longer than the time it took to snap a few photos. Gene Rosburg from Superior, Wis., and his golden retriever Lucy were among the curious walking along the ice covered canal.
“We heard it was crazy down here,” Rosburg said. “So we had to come and check it out for ourselves. It is quite impressive.”
Dean Siemsen from Hermantown, Minn., also inspected the toll that the weather took on canal. He works in downtown Duluth and enjoys walking along the Lakewalk as much as possible.
“I just like to come down here and see how everything looks,” said Siemsen. “I was here a few times last week and all of this was not here. All of this ice just washed up with the wind.”
Northland’s Newscenter’s Chief Meteorologist Adam Clark wrote in an e-mail that the reason why we are having this weather is because “a strong low pressure system to our south was causing the wind. When we see a strong pressure gradient between a high pressure system and a low pressure system we see high wind speeds. Our wind was coming out of the east and going over Lake Superior. The lake does not slow the wind down because it causes very little friction against it, unlike a forest would do. So the wind can come in from the lake at great speeds. Since the low was to our south and a low spins in a counterclockwise direction, we were getting the wind right off the lake.”
Not only have Canal Park and the Lake Superior changed drastically, but so have the ski conditions at local ski resorts. On February 20 and 21, Spirit Mountain was forced to only have one chairlift open and completely shutdown the skiers left side of the mountain, including the terrain park.
This closing affected the weekly race league. A statement on the Spirit Mountain website said that the “Monday Night Miller Lite Race League has been postponed for tonight. ‘Gandy Chairlift’ has been down for two days due to high winds and we are not sure if the winds will die down enough for us to run the lift tonight.”
Now that the snow and wind has died down there is one thing that can be learned from this storm: Don’t expect spring in February; this is Northern Minnesota after all.
Winds whip through Canal Park