Ethan Gibbs likes dabbling in photography.
But only when the weather feels like cooperating. That's not always the case in his neck of the woods.
Specifically, Gibbs lives near the small town of Cross Lake (pop. 2,141), in Crow Wing county, roughly 50 miles north of Brainerd, or three hours north of the Twin Cities. There's not a whole lot going on right there, but the nature shots are pretty great.
Last Wednesday, Gibbs got a nice landscape photo just by aiming his phone directly out the back of his house, which looks upon Mitchell Lake. It was mid-50s and sunny that day. Gibbs knew it wouldn't last.
Already, the weather forecast for a couple days later called for a massive snowstorm to blow through that part of the state.
"I looked out the window," Gibbs says, "and it didn't look like that was going to be the case at all."
The forecasters were right. Friday morning, Gibbs, 19, found himself helping his dad snowplow the roads that lead out to their isolated house. Winds gusted up to 40 miles per hour, blasting Gibbs and his father with the 14 inches of snow piling up around their house.
"That was kind of miserable," Gibbs says, describing work that took three hours.
During a break in the toil, Gibbs took his phone and snapped another photo, looking to capture how rapidly the weather had changed in just 48 hours. He spliced the two side-by-side. The difference in scenes is remarkable.
The Wednesday "before" photo looks like a catalogue shot that could be used to sell lakefront properties. The Friday "after" shot looks like the setting for a National Geographic show about Kodiak bear hibernation.
Note that the lake, which appears to be only a few hundred feet away in the earlier photo, is completely obscured by the falling and blowing snow.
On Saturday, Gibbs uploaded his split photo to Reddit, where people promptly freaked the hell out. The post has inspired more than 2,000 comments, and briefly appeared on the popular forum website's front page.
Gibbs gets why it got such a reaction. He's lived in that area since moving there for kindergarten, and for all his experience of wild Minnesota weather, this is the most extreme transition he can remember.
By Monday, Gibbs reported that the view from the window was different: Plenty of unthawed snow still covering the ground, but it was clear and sunny. This, too, won't last.
According to the Weather Channel, his part of the state is due for a slightly smaller storm starting Tuesday, which might leave one to three inches of new snow.
If that Farmer's Almanac long-term forecast for Minnesota can be trusted, this is only the beginning.
Says Gibbs, of Minnesota's winters: "I mostly just put up with it. I like to look at it, but I don’t like to be out in it."