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Canadian cold affected area weather

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If some wonder why it seems as if Wadena and surrounding areas have been getting more winter storms lately, they can thank weather patterns that are invading us from staging points in Canada.

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Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck of AccuWeather said March 9 saw slightly less than 3 inches of snow in the Wadena area, part of which may have turned to ice as temperatures fell the next day.

“It’s definitely been a more active pattern this winter compared to last winter by a long shot,” he said.

According to figures provided by Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol, last weekend’s storm wreaked havoc on drivers in the State Patrol’s Detroit Lakes district, which includes Wadena County. Grabow reported 60 accidents, 40 of which were rollovers. The accident tally included six crashes that resulted in non-life-threatening injuries and one jack-knifed semi.  Also, state troopers responded to 139 vehicles that went in the ditch and required towing.

The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office dealt with four ditched vehicles and one rollover last weekend. 

 Smerbeck said the storm was part of a trend caused by what meteorologists call a “blocking pattern.” In Wadena’s case, the blocking pattern is made up of a localized area of pressure in Canada that’s deflecting the jet stream. Normally, the jet stream’s course across the continent runs to the north of us. But with the pressure area sitting in the way, the jet stream has bent into the Wadena area, sending colder air that mixes with systems from the Pacific Ocean to create snowstorms.

However, the perception that winter has been unusually harsh here so far might be due more to people unjustly comparing the current winter to last year’s warmer winter, Smerbeck said. He pointed out that temperatures last March in Minneapolis were as high as 80 degrees.

“It seems like it’s been cold, but it’s actually normal,” he said. “You’re having a normal winter temperaturewise, and normal precipitation.”

Smerbeck said predictions for this weekend included a dry Saturday, but a chance for about 1-2 inches of snow on Sunday.

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