More than 30 inches of snow has buried Minneapolis this month, its snowiest February in recorded history. And there's more to come as a powerhouse storm born in the Southwest U.S. bolts northeast into the Upper Midwest this weekend.
Officially, 31.7 inches of snow has fallen in Minneapolis this month, crushing the previous February record from 1962 by 5.2 inches.
"Normally stoic Minnesotans are not amused, and when the old-timers moan and groan you know it's atypical," said Paul Douglas, meteorologist for the Star Tribune, in an email. "It was a one-two punch, a taste of the polar vortex (three days of pain with a wind chill dipping to minus-55) followed by a nearly continuous dumping of snow."
It's the snowiest month in Minneapolis since December 2010 and the 10th snowiest since records began in 1872. St. Cloud, Minn., and Eau Claire, Wis., have also witnessed record February snowfall.
February is not over and one to two inches are predicted in the Twin Cities through Friday night, Feb. 22. Then, on Saturday night, a more severe snowstorm may sweep across the region.
"The winter storm for Saturday night and Sunday is going to be one of the strongest we've seen this winter," the National Weather Service office serving the Twin Cities tweeted. "Winds should easily gust 40-45 mph. This could lead to blizzard conditions, especially in open areas."
Minneapolis is expected to sit on the western edge of the heaviest snowfall, so it might just get brushed by one to three inches of snow or plastered by more than twice that much. Areas just east of the Twin Cities into western Wisconsin have the highest chance of heavy amounts.
The responsible storm is the same one which dispensed rare snowflakes in the Los Angeles area and measurable snowfall in Las Vegas. In Flagstaff, Ariz., the storm dumped three feet (35.9 inches), the city's biggest single-day snow event on record.
"It seems that this storm has the potential to overachieve in terms of sensible weather across the Upper Midwest as well," the Weather Service serving the Twin Cities wrote in its forecast discussion.
The back-to-back weekend weather systems will further stress a region which has endured an unusually brutal and disruptive three weeks, even by its own standards.
"Snow banks are so high it's dangerous pulling out onto highways - you can't see over the snow piles!," Douglas said. "Many school districts have had six days off between the cold and the snow this winter. That's unheard of in Minnesota. Our winters are trending milder with more erratic snows, but once every four years or so we get spanked."
This article was written by Jason Samenow, a reporter for The Washington Post.