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32 inches of snow recorded north of Virginia

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The three-day snowstorm that pummeled the Iron Range from Saturday night through Monday morning didn't set any single day-snowfall records for the state but was one of the biggest multi-day snowfalls and may have been the state's largest April snowstorm.

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* The storm -- topped by 32 inches recorded just north of Virginia -- was easily the biggest April snowfall for the Iron Range. The Minnesota State Climatologist's office reports that the closest April event in the Virginia area was 20 inches in one day.

* While harder to confirm, the 32-inch total also appears to have broken Minnesota's largest-ever April snow event, which had been 28 inches at Pigeon River set on April 5, 1933. That record was for a single day, however, so it's not known if more snow fell before or after.

* The 32 inches over three days north of Virginia probably would make a top-10 list for all-time Minnesota multi-day snowstorms -- if there were one.

Most records are kept for 24-hour periods, and climate historians don't have a good handle on longer snow events.

Minnesota's largest multiday snowstorm was recorded in 1994 at Wolf Ridge along the North Shore, where 46.5 inches fell Jan. 6-8. The 37 inches that fell in Duluth over three days during the 1991 Halloween Blizzard is believed to be second on that list. Duluth also had a 33.1-inch, multi-day snowstorm in 1950.

"It looks like this report [32 inches] would hold for one of the big snow events ever in the state,'' said Greg Spoden, an assistant state climatologist. "It's a lot of snow for any time, but especially for April.''

Mike Bettwy, meteorological assistant at the National Weather Service in Duluth, said it is "very unusual'' that so much snow would fall in such a narrow band for so long.

Spoden said that with 10-to-1 water ratios reported from the storm, the Range snowfall was equal to 2-3 inches of rain falling, more than would usually fall during the entire month of April.

The storm closed most schools in the area and even closed the Itasca County courthouse Monday due to a power outage. No major injuries or fatalities were reported.

The snow was so wet and heavy that some Itasca County graders were getting stuck, said Sheriff Pat Medure, who reported 24 inches of snow at his house south of Grand Rapids.

"For this much snow it's amazing we didn't have more serious problems. Just cars in the ditch and power outages,'' Medure said. "Things are opening up now. But the snow is so heavy that the plows are having some trouble.''

The snow also downed some trees and power lines, and about 650 Lake Country Power customers were still without electricity Monday afternoon, most in Itasca County.

The storm seemed especially cruel coming less than 24 hours after warm sunshine Friday with high temperatures near 60 degrees.

More rain or snow is possible in some areas early Wednesday, but that storm is expected to pass to the east. A better chance of snow or rain comes Friday, although that storm also should mostly miss the Iron Range, Bettwy said.

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