A year ago, to the chagrin of skiers, snowmobilers and other lovers of winter, the Twin Cities metro area had no snow on the ground. Zip, zero, zilch.
Starting Saturday afternoon and continuing into Sunday, the snow gods remedied that deficit, dumping anywhere from 10 inches — in a wide swath of southern Minnesota — to depths ranging from 7.1 inches at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to 9.1 inches at Chanhassen. The snow brought with it snow emergencies, parking regulations, dozens of crashes and spinouts and at least the potential for school closings in the state come Monday.
The powder, along with moderate temperatures in the low 20s, also brought joy to hordes of cross-country and downhill skiers, sledders, snowman-builders and to others who make their living either removing snow or helping others frolic in it.
“This is really what we’ve been hoping for since last season,” said Andrew Berns, ski operations supervisor at Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area (formerly Hyland Hills Ski Area) in Bloomington. “I’ve seen quite a few people just coming down the hill absolutely caked in snow sounding like they had the best time ever. Everyone who skis knows how rare it is to get a day like this.”
The cross-country ski trails at nearby Hyland Lake Park Reserve were open Sunday, too, as were the Twin Lakes trail and the Skyline trail at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Other places said their trails would be open soon, very soon.
Ski passes hot ticket
“They’ll be roller-packed tomorrow,” Sarah Pronschinske, visitor services specialist at Dakota County’s Lebanon Hills Park said of the park’s cross-country ski trails, adding that there wasn’t enough snow — yet — to “track” the trails.
Lebanon Hills was only renting snowshoes Sunday but many people brought their own
“We’re selling a lot of ski passes today,” she said.
Visitors were also hanging out at the park’s indoor and outdoor fireplaces, making it seem like a “mini ski resort.” Families, too, were enjoying the park’s small sledding hills.
Ski lessons were going full swing at Hyland, Buck Hill, Afton Alps and other ski hills in the metro area on Sunday. There were lines out the door of the ticket office at Buck Hill, said Heidi Jo Karlsson, director of skier services.
Pam Hoye, marketing and PR manager at Afton Alps, was pushing the area’s “I Will Ski” program, which runs one day a week for four consecutive weeks. Participants end up with a pair of Elan skis at the end of the program. “There’s a nice mix of expert skiers and beginner skiers who want to learn filling our hills today,” Hoye said. “It’s fantastic!”
The Loppet Foundation now runs all of Minneapolis’ winter recreation programs, including Wirth Park, the Chain of Lakes trails and others, and they were hopping on Sunday.
“I’m not even a skier and I’m excited,” said Ken Halsey of Loppet.
Tubing hills such as Eko Backen and Green Acres are just gearing up and weren’t open for the season yet on Sunday.
“We’re going to open on Friday,” said John Fraley, owner of Eko Backen, 6 miles east of Forest Lake and Scandia. “I’ve had a lot of calls. The closer you get to the holiday, the more people think of tubing,” he said.
At Elm Creek Park Reserve, there were only private lessons; the tubing hill needed more snow to make the base. There were plenty of sledders and snow tubers out in city parks and hilly yards, though.
4 to 8 inches
The light, fluffy snow began falling in the metro area around 3 p.m. Saturday and led to more than 280 spinouts and crashes on Sunday around the Twin Cities as the snow intensified.
By Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported 9.1 inches in Chanhassen, 8.5 near Shakopee, 8 northeast of Burnsville and in Eden Prairie, 7.2 near Edina, 7.5 near Lakeville, 6 in St. Louis Park, 4.5 in ski-happy Afton, 7 on the West Side of St. Paul and 7.1 at the Twin Cities airport early Sunday afternoon.
Minneapolis, St. Paul and a number of suburbs including West St. Paul, St. Louis Park and Plymouth declared snow emergencies late Sunday morning. The best place to find out parking particulars is on each city’s website.
It’s not all good news for folks who like to be outdoors, though. The season’s first subzero temperatures are expected to arrive in the metro by Tuesday or Wednesday. Just enough wind could push the “feels like” readings toward 25 below zero, the NWS said.