And the snowiest college campus is…

Here’s a bit of weather-cred to add to your resume, Bulldogs. AccuWeather.com recently listed the top 10 snowiest colleges in the United States based on annual snowfall. University of Minnesota Duluth landed at No. 5 — not as snowy as the No. 1 school, Michigan Tech in Houghton (almost 200 inches each year), but far snowier than University of Alaska Fairbanks (62 inches). UMD is listed as getting 86 inches a year. Other schools on the list, from snowiest to still snowy but not as snowy as the snowiest, include: Syracuse University, University of Rochester, University of Buffalo, University of Vermont, Southern New Hampshire University, Western Michigan University and Cornell University. BTW: According to the National Weather Service, Duluth has had 54.3 inches of snow this year through Thursday night.

 

Happy trails for Northland snowmobilers

The C.J. Ramstad North Shore State Trail is in good shape for snowmobiling this weekend, said Joe Russell, area supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources parks and trails division.

“It’s 100 percent better this weekend than last weekend,” Russell said.
The trail is groomed from Duluth to Cook County and has from 18 to 36 inches of snow. The heavy snowfall brought down many trees on the trail, which had to be cleared before grooming could begin, Russell said.

“That sure tested our start-up,” he said.

For the latest conditions on the trail, call the North Shore Trail hotline at (218) 834-1439 or go to the DNR website, mndnr.gov, and click “Snowmobiling” and “State Trails.”

Russell urged riders to use caution, keep right and ride safely.

Ice? Salt? Smarts?

Recently, a reader from Duluth, Erik Holmstrom, posed the question about what can be done about the icy roads besides using salt.

As it turns out, there are a couple things that can be done to make travel safer on Duluth’s icy roads.

There is a chemical that is sometimes used to melt the ice at temperatures lower than 15 degrees, roughly the coldest pure salt will work at. It’s called chloride (which covers sodium, calcium and magnesium) and this chemical can melt the snow even in 60-degree below zero weather. Sounds great, right? Sadly, no. Chlorides are harsh chemicals that can scorch the ice off the roads, but there are problems associated, not the least of which is cost. Some estimates put it at $10 to $18 per 5-10 pound container. The Environmental Protection Agency has guidelines for the other problems.

The EPA:
“Chlorides can cause serious problems. They can be detrimental to animals and plants, and they are corrosive. Site conditions, particularly where roads are immediate adjacent to streams, must be evaluated carefully if chlorides are being considered for use.”

With Lake Superior so close, and myriad rivers and creeks flowing into it, the use of chlorides, while not forbidden, is likely not the most environmentally conscious thing to dump on city streets. At least, not in the amounts needed to rid the city of its ice encrusted streets.

There is, however, another solution.

The awesome cognitive, mechanical and visual spatial skills necessary to obtain a driver’s license ensures that everyone is capable of recognizing slippery conditions and can plan accordingly. This includes not following too closely. Leave a few more car lengths between your car and the one you are following. Go slower in icy conditions. Don’t wait for others to learn to drive better, be the change you want to see in the world.

Stay home … for now

The Duluth Library Foundation has rescheduled its second annual “Libations at the Library” due to the snowfall.

The event will now be from 6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 11.

The fundraising event promises to be a glittering gala filled with books, flameless) candlelight, food and drink, with money raised to support the library.

The event is free, but the foundation is asking guests to RSVP by calling (218) 730-4262 or emailing duluthlibraryfoundation@gmail.com.

It’s snow time

The weather outside is getting frightful, which means it’s time to dust off the snow-mentality when it comes to driving.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation wants to remind all drivers of what it takes to drive safely in winter around the massive plows on Minnesota highways, byways and roads.

* Check road conditions: Call 511 or go to www.511mn.org to see what road conditions are like along your route.

* Stay back: MnDOT asks that motorists stay five car lengths behind plows.

* Stay alert: Snow plows might turn or exit the roadway with little warning

* Slow down: Drive at a speed safe for road conditions; allow plenty of time to reach your destination

* Avoid travel when conditions become poor or hazardous, do not travel unnecessarily

For more information, visit mndot.gov/workzone or follow #mnstorm on Twitter.

Blanket statement

Eh? loves nothing better than to wrap up in a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day. But what about people in the area who have nothing to keep them warm?

That’s the impetus for Project Warmth, a fun event with a purpose at 5 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Virginia Elks Club.

The folks at Range Mental Health Center tell us the gala will feature gourmet appetizers, dancing to the music of Pulse, raffles, auctions and games. The cost is $25 per person, and donations of new or gently used blankets and quilts are encouraged.

Tickets are available at the Elks Club, the mental health center’s Bell Building or by calling Susan at (218) 780-7115.

Frosty first day of school in Northland

Those warm summer days felt far, far away Tuesday morning as many Northland students headed back to school.

Low temperatures reported by the Weather Service and its spotters included 31 at Brimson, 32 at Togo, 33 at Embarrass and 34 at Hibbing and Crane Lake.

Ely, Moose Lake and Hayward each dropped to 36; Floodwood fell to 37, International Falls 38 and Cloquet 39. The Duluth airport reported a low of 46.

It’s all a sign of things to come, of course. The Weather Service reports Duluth’s average highs in September tumble from the low 70s at the start to the upper 50s by month’s end. Overnight lows drop from the low 50s to about 40. And, on average, Duluth sees a tenth of an inch of snow in September.

Top-10 summer in Duluth

After a summer that, at times, made Duluth, Minn., feel more like Duluth, Ga., it’s probably no surprise to learn that the season cracked the city’s top-10 list of warmest summers on record.

Summer 2013 — June, July and August — was the eighth-warmest in Duluth, where the National Weather Service’s records go back to 1870. Its average temperature of 66.1 degrees was 2.7 degrees above normal.

And it was the sixth-warmest August on record in Duluth, with an average temperature of 69 degrees — 4.7 degrees above normal.

Both August and the summer as a whole saw rainfall well below average in Duluth, though rainfall was above average elsewhere in the region.

Heat wave

The official thermometer at the Duluth International Airport hit 92 degrees on Tuesday afternoon — the first 90-degree reading of 2013 at Duluth, and the first here since July 22 of last year, when we hit 90 on the dot. Duluth’s record high for the date remains 97 degrees, set in 1936.

Tuesday’s high temperature was 114 degrees warmer than the lowest temperature of the winter: 22 below on Feb. 1.

The National Weather Service says we should expect another hot day today — highs in the 80s to near 90 — before temperatures drop a bit toward the weekend. Keep an eye out for storms, too, the next few days — a few may be severe in the Northland.

June was warm

June in Duluth came in warmer than usual — 1.5 degrees above the 30-year average. There were an unusually high 10 days with highs in the 80s. (70s are normal.) There were no frosts, with 37 (on June 3) the coldest reported at Duluth International Airport.

June was just slightly wetter than normal, with 4.54 inches of rain — 0.31 inches above normal. June usually is our wettest month.

June also broke a string of four straight months of below-normal temperatures, with March and April much colder than normal, causing what some called a spring to forget. Will the warm trend continue through summer? So far July looks warm, but the National Climate Prediction Center shows no major variation from normal for any of the Northland, for either temperature or rainfall.