Is this the coldest winter in Minnesota? It's a very reasonable theory. Considering the amount of sub-zero days, the arctic wind chills, and the number of below zero days in a row, you'd imagine that this has to be one of the coldest winters ever. You'd be right. According to the MN DNR, this winter is so far, based on average temperatures, the 9th coldest winter. The average temperature has been just 9.7 Fahrenheit, as of February 28. It's the coldest winter in 35 years.
The DNR also reports that the number of days below zero is also making the record books, with top-ten numbers of days below zero, and number of days below zero in a row.
The winter, as far as temperature records are concerned, is usually the meteorological winter, December 1 through March 1. With a chilly weekend in the forecast, it looks like the 2013-2014 is assured a place in those top ten charts.
The city of St. Paul has followed Minneapolis' lead in enacting snow parking regulations city-wide. Starting from Monday March 3 at 8 a.m., parking on the even side of residential roads is prohibited. The restrictions will remain in place until April 1, or until enough snow melts to widen the streets sufficiently to permit more efficient traffic flow.
To avoid a ticket, park on the odd side of residential roads, and on either side of non-residential roads; as well as follow all other parking restrictions.
What is a residential street in St. Paul? What is a non-residential street? You can view a map and look up your address at the city of St. Paul's winter parking information page.
And it becomes even more confusing in the event of a snow emergency. According to the city, "If a Snow Emergency is declared while parking restrictions are in effect, the one-sided parking restrictions rules will be temporarily suspended as described here, and Snow Emergency rules will apply. Drivers may start moving their cars to Day Plow Routes beginning at 4 p.m. on the day the Snow Emergency is declared (Day 1). Winter Parking Restrictions resume again at 8 a.m. the morning following Day 2, when the Snow Emergency comes to an end". Check St. Paul's website for the latest info in the event of a snow emergency.
Well, people always start asking that question after some major snowstorms, and the sheer amount of snow sitting at the sides of roads and compacted ice on the streets. This winter, the extreme cold has prevented all of the snow melting, so more of it is still there, so it perhaps looks worse than it is.
As of late February 2014, the Twin Cities have received just under 60 inches of snow. The record winter snowfall is from the 1983-84 season, with 98.6 inches. So, w e are not on track to beat any records, but you never know with the weather - there is still plenty of winter left.
Many houses in Minneapolis and St. Paul are framed with icicles all around the edges of the roof - a sure sign of an ice dam. Icicles form when snow on a warm roof melts. The edge of the roof is colder than the center, so the melted snow re-freezes. Unfortunately, this forms an ice barrier or dam that pens up any more melting water. That water often percolates into the roof, causing water damage and mold.
Preventing ice dams can be tricky, and you'll need to evaluate your roof, your loft insulation, your willingness and ability to remove snow from your roof, and your budget. Preventing ice dams on Minnesota houses.
The economy is tough and fuel costs are high, and many households are worried about paying their heating bills.
Minnesota has a law that prevents utility companies from disconnecting gas or electricity services that provide heat to residential customers who can't afford to pay their bills over the winter. Winter is defined as October 15 - April 15.
Anyone, renters or homeowners, in any income bracket, can take advantage of the law, but customers MUST contact their utility company to arrange a payment plan. If a customer can't make those payments defined in the payment plan, they must contact the utility company again to re-arrange payments. Essentially the law protects customers from having their heat shut off over the winter, and allows customers to spread the cost six months of winter heating bills more evenly over the whole year.
So if you are worried about being able to pay your heating bills, your first step is to contact the utility company as soon as possible.
Federal and state programs are also available to low-income families. Lists of organizations are available at the following links,
- MN.gov list of energy assistance providers
- Energy Assistance Information from Xcel Energy
- Energy assistance from CenterPoint energy
More information on heating and your rights:
The kids have had more snow days from school than they can remember, hardware stores are sold out of snow blowers, the weather has been record-breakingly cold, and Minneapolis has just enacted winter parking regulations in the city. The roads thawed enough last week to form plenty of suspension rattling potholes, followed by a weekend of being coated with ice and (mostly) everyone driving in slow motion. And at last, cities managed to deploy trucks to spread salt and start removing some of that ice on Sunday. We can only hope that the Monday morning commute is better than the end of last week's was. Why didn't the trucks start spreading salt earlier? Presumably, it was deemed to be too cold - road salt is only effective above 15F, and is wasted below that temperature.
Minneapolis' winter parking restrictions are a headache, but the official reason is to help keep streets clear to permit traffic flow, and also for emergency vehicles. St. Paul officials are discussing a similar plan for their streets.
The good news? It's the end of February, you've made it this far, and chances are, you can make it through another month and then we'll start seeing signs of spring. Finger's crossed!
All of the qualifying events for the Winter Olympic Games are over, and the list of athletes heading to Sochi with Team USA has been announced. Minnesota is sending the second-highest number of athletes out of any state - 19 - to the Winter Olympics. Colorado is sending 20 athletes, and California is also sending 19.
Overall, Team USA will be competing in every discipline at the games - the only nation besides Germany to do so. Minnesotans will be competing in Biathlon, Ice Hockey, Curling, Speedskating, and Cross-Country Skiing. Go Team USA - and go Minnesota!
For the third year, the Red Bull Crashed Ice downhill ice cross competition is coming to St. Paul. Same location on the hill outside the Cathedral of St. Paul, a dramatic setting with plenty of room for spectators. If you are planning a trip to Crashed Ice in St. Paul, here's some visitor information - how to get to Crashed Ice, where to park at Crashed Ice, and where to go for food and drink before and after the skating.
Top tips: there's plenty of free street parking within a 10-minute walk of the event. And, good boots are a necessity - you'll be standing outside in snow and/or mud so warm, waterproof footwear is essential. Bring hot chocolate and some snacks with you, although there are many restaurants within a short walk, there are limited options at the event.
The 48th Superbowl is on Sunday February 2, 2014. If you are in need of a bar to watch the Superbowl at, here's a choice of sport-friendly bars with plenty of televisions and plenty of other football fans to watch the game with, including many with food and drink specials for the game.
One of the hardest things to get used to for newcomers to the Twin Cities is the complex and varying Snow Emergency parking rules. There's no standard, and each city decides when to call a Snow Emergency, so the timings and rules can vary considerably.
Minneapolis' are the most complex, with 3 days of parking restrictions: Minneapolis Snow Emergency parking rules
St. Paul's parking rules are a little simpler: St. Paul Snow Emergency Parking rules
And other cities tend to be a little more straightforward: Snow Emergency Parking in other cities in the Metro Area
Most cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, offer a free email or text message service to notify residents when a Snow Emergency is called, and each city's website posts rules for snow parking.