Some former Minnesotans living in the midst of the East Coast blizzard of 2016 were almost giddy at the sight of 20 to 30 inches of snow that pummeled the region thanks to the camaraderie and neighborly cooperation it inspired.
Katherine Lanpher, a former St. Paul resident now living in Brooklyn, said she went grocery shopping Friday in advance of the storm.
“A snowstorm equals pot roast in my house,” she said Sunday. “I had the neighbors over for pot roast. Very Minnesotan.”
More than 25 inches of snow fell on New York City’s Central Park but by Sunday it was already melting, said Lanpher, who left St. Paul, where she was a journalist, almost a dozen years ago. With temperatures forecast to be in the 40s this week, the rest should disappear soon.
“Yesterday, several former Minnesotans and I were agreeing that this is the most Minnesota snowstorm that we’re going to get,” she said. “You become much more communal. There’s a young woman digging her car out in front of me. Several people have stopped to give her advice. I told her to call me if she needs a place to warm up.”
Cars and nonemergency vehicles had to be off New York streets by 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Stores were shuttered. Subways and bus lines closed. But people came out in droves to trudge or ski down the middle of the streets, walk their dogs and pull babies and toddlers on toboggans and sleds.
And in New York fashion, building supers who neglect to shovel the sidewalk or car owners who don’t heed the curfew are publicly shamed, Lanpher said, laughing.
“It’s a really interesting juxtaposition of New York spirit and Minnesota snow,” she said.
Kate Erickson, who moved to New York City from Minnesota nine years ago, also found the “forced down time” kind of enchanting.
She vividly remembers trick-or-treating in a snowsuit in Brainerd during the Halloween blizzard of 1991, which dropped more than 36 inches of snow in some parts of the state.
“I’ve lived here long enough now that Minnesota winters terrify me, but my Nordic roots have never left me,” she said. “You have to take the whole experience in stride and ride it out.
“To experience the city in such a hushed but playful state is special,” she said.
Scott Clausen, a Bloomington native who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, did the Minnesota thing: He tried to keep up with the shoveling as more than 30 inches piled up Friday and Saturday.
It made the task of digging his SUV out of the snow Sunday more manageable, but he still spent more than four hours shoveling cars and driveways with a group of residents at his condo community in Gaithersburg, Md.
“This storm brought out some good-neighborliness today,” he said. “Everyone was out helping each other out.”
The storm also brought the best out of 130 Twin Cities high school students and chaperones who spent 22 hours stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said Bill Dill, the youth ministry coordinator with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. On the way back from a march by abortion opponents in Washington, D.C., Friday night, the group’s three buses came to a standstill after an accident and the heavy snow shut down the highway.
The students awoke to 2 feet of snow Saturday morning. They mingled with other stranded travelers, Dill said, and found out a couple of priests were among them. They built an altar out of snow by the side of the road and celebrated mass.
“I wouldn’t trade those 22 hours for anything,” said Hannah Hoekman, a senior at Anoka High School. “I felt so alive and full of joy during this whole ordeal.”
What Matt Swanson, a teacher from Crystal, will remember from the weekend was visiting six hardware stores in the Baltimore area in a futile search for a snow shovel — an item that store managers explained they don’t usually stock in large numbers.