Light, fluffy snow was falling Saturday night across southern Minnesota, bringing with it charm — a freshened-up landscape — and challenge — slippery roads.
The metro area was expected to get 3 to 5 inches by the time the snow tapers off Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
A winter weather advisory covered all of southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, stretching from St. Cloud to the Iowa border, said Jim Taggart, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's regional office in Chanhassen.
Forecasts call for 2 to 4 inches north of the metro area, and 3 to 6 inches to the south.
That's a pretty average January snowfall, Taggart said.
"It's the typical nuisance type," he said. "You're going to get traffic accidents because it's snowy and slippery out there."
Drivers should use caution; by evening, most roads west of the Twin Cities, including those to the north, were at least partly snow-covered, according to the Department of Transportation's road information website.
Numerous crashes and spinouts were reported, especially in the metro area. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 148 crashes were reported statewide from noon to 9 p.m. Fifteen of those had injuries with none considered serious, the patrol said, adding that there 104 spinouts or vehicles leaving the road, with three semitrailer trucks jackknifed.
On the bright side, the snow will be light and fluffy, not the heavy stuff that fell during recent days where temperatures hovered around freezing.
For the two or three Minnesotans who don't love winter, it has been a relatively pleasant January. Temperatures this month have averaged about 8 degrees above normal, Taggart said.
If it's any consolation to the 5,640,997 Minnesotans who do love winter, today's pretty average snowfall will be followed by a decidedly undramatic cold snap, with daytime highs of 4 or 5 degrees below the average for this time of year, which is 25 degrees. We'll warm up above average later in the week, when the highs could possibly top freezing.
More bad news for hardy winter lovers: The 3.4 inches of total snowfall so far in January is just over a third of the normal 9.2 inches. On the bright side, snow so far this season is a bit higher than normal: 33.9 inches compared to 31 inches. Much of it came before Halloween — 7.9 inches on the 20th.
January is usually winter's snowiest month, said Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye. But whatever happens in February and March, don't give up hope, winter enthusiasts! The past three Aprils have delivered generous helpings of snow, including 26.1 inches in 2018.
It's been unusually warm, too. So far this year, the official airport temperature has not dropped below zero, Taggart said, although observers elsewhere did see some subzero temps. And the mercury fell below zero a couple of times in the Twin Cities in late December.
Another sign of a warm January this year is that we set a record for the highest low temperatures on Jan. 15. Which is to say that for a 24-hour period from midnight to midnight, the temperature didn't drop below 33 degrees, a record-breaking warm minimum temperature.
Katy Read • 612-673-4583