Lake-effect snowfall in Minnesota is a “devastating event”

Lake-effect snowfall in Minnesota is a "devastating event"

The Times podcast: Our Masters of Disasters know it’s windy as hell in Minnesota now, but when the winds are a little fresher, they get really, really nasty.

“It’s the same time of year,” said Mike LaRocque, who is coordinating the state’s storm plan. “We have these two fronts interacting that we’ve never seen before, and that’s why we’ve never seen this many storms this season.”

The new storm season has been unusually dry. Normally it’s a time when we get the first snow of the year and then all the rest of the winter snow that melts, leaving us with lake-effect snow falling from the lakes.

For the first time, we have lake-effect snow falling in Minnesota instead of the expected lake-effect snow — the kind of snow that falls on snow-covered terrain after the snow is completely absorbed. LaRocque said as far as he’s heard, Minnesota has had more than 60 inches of this kind of stuff in a season over the past few decades, but never in this amount.

The National Weather Service calls this sort of stuff the most extreme — and the most dangerous — of all lake-effect snowstorms. LaRocque said it would have to be the most extreme lake-effect snowstorm in history for it to have happened in recent history. Only a few thousand years ago, he said, a similar storm system would have affected the northern United States.

Mike LaRocque (Courtesy photo)

The result would have been a “devastating event.” He said the combination of the two storms is particularly brutal.

This storm system will stay with us for several days, LaRocque said, at least.

“If it’s not a problem, we’ll be good to go,” he said. “We’re not quite expecting to get the snow that we’d like to at this time of year.”

But if things don’t improve, LaRocque said he expects it to stay with us for days.

The storms come in the spring, he said, but

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