Like many wildly optimistic Minnesotans, Jordan Thompson of Chaska removed the snow shovel from his car a couple of weeks ago.
But after seeing the latest forecast for heavy snow in the Twin Cities, the 25-year-old pizza delivery driver begrudgingly threw the shovel right back into the trunk. “I had taken it out as a wishful thought that spring was here,” he said.
The spring storm expected to sweep across much of the Midwest may deliver to Minnesota a second consecutive year of record-breaking April snow.
The forecast on Tuesday was so grim that major airlines, including Delta and United Airlines, already issued weather waivers for flights on Wednesday and Thursday out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as well as several other Midwestern airports.
And in a twist of seasonal weather irony, statewide tornado drills planned for Thursday in Minnesota and Wisconsin were canceled due to the anticipated storm.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for west-central Minnesota, where wind gusts of up to 50 mph could whip around more than a foot of snow.
A winter storm watch was in effect for the rest of the state and parts of Wisconsin.
A mix of snow, rain and sleet was expected to start falling Wednesday before turning to all snow Wednesday night. The storm was expected to move out of the state by early Friday.
By then the metro area could receive 3 to 8 inches of snow, though the amount that accumulates could vary.
Parts of western Minnesota could see up to 2 feet of snow.
Caleb Grunzke, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, said that an April storm delivering so much snow at once is a rarity.
However, the 15.8 inches of snow that fell in the Twin Cities last April is still fresh in residents’ minds, leaving many to ask, “Really? Again?”
Two of the top 10 April snowstorms in the Twin Cities in the last 128 years came in 2018. At the beginning of the month last year, the metro area received 9 inches of snow.
That was followed only a couple weeks later by a massive storm that hammered the state and disrupted countless plans for a mid-April Saturday.
“I mean, it is Minnesota,” Grunzke said. “Spring is a transition period, and weather can be very active. But we know people will complain about it.”
The additional precipitation may mean that some areas of the state will return to moderate flooding stage, he said. “It won’t be as bad as it was a few weeks ago,” he said. “But river flooding isn’t over just yet.”
Debra Points of Amery, Wis., has been watching the forecasts closely. She said she’s probably being “very selfish” in saying that she’s excited about another snowstorm — after all, she doesn’t need to drive in it and her husband and sons are the ones who will have to plow it.
“They are hoping the forecast is wrong,” she said.
Points sees the coming snow as “one last hurrah, one last blanketing over of clean white that covers the grit and grime of winter’s salt, sand and garbage.” She plans to watch the snow from her picture window, hot beverage in hand.
“April snows aren’t a routine happening, and when they do happen, it is magic,” she said.
After spending April nights last year delivering pizzas in blowing snow, Thompson is prepared for a repeat.
Still, he’s conflicted: “I want it to be in the 60s like it was [Monday] … I think we are all ready for winter to be over.”
Grumble if you want, but Grunzke recommended restocking the winter weather kit in your vehicle and continuing to watch the forecast, which may change as the storm gets closer to Minnesota.
The good news, Grunzke said, is that the snow won’t stick around for long.
“And we are getting closer to May,” he said. “Winter is almost always over by the start of May.” He paused. “But who knows what could happen over the next few weeks?”