Not all heroes wear capes. When this week’s storm swept across the state, showering us with precipitation ranging from frozen to liquid to that bone-numbing gloppy in-between, Minnesota’s National Weather Service was there to answer the question each and every one of us has asked at least once a year: Should I drive?
We don’t mean in a general, here’s-the-forecast-for-your-area-make-of-that-what-you-will kind of way. The service’s Twin Cities office has literally been advising individual Twitter users who are wondering whether they should get in their cars -- from the Stillwater-bound traveler leaving Omaha at 7:30 a.m. to the driver in Durand heading to Cable.
It’s like calling your mom for advice before attempting the drive home from college, but with more science and sometimes a cool chart.
Probably would be pretty rough: this is for Thursday morning leaving at 7 am. Values are snow amounts when you arrive at that spot. pic.twitter.com/tAwRSSinbW— NWS Duluth (@NWSduluth) December 26, 2018
If you went from Omaha to the Twin Cities area today (assuming I-80 to I-35), you'll just encounter rain. However, once you get north of about St. Cloud, heavy snow and difficult travel through tonight. Better to wait for that last leg/— NWS Twin Cities (@NWSTwinCities) December 27, 2018
@NWSTwinCities have a funeral in Minocqua WI Friday morning. Would be traveling there from the Twin Cities. What should I expect as far as driving conditions?— Debra Johnson (@DebraAnn1010) December 27, 2018
@NWSTwinCities any blizzard conditions for Thursday night Friday Morning In West Wisconsin— lol (@dudehobolol) December 27, 2018
You will be driving into rain into the Plymouth area, and likely back into some snow or a rain/snow mix on your return.— NWS Twin Cities (@NWSTwinCities) December 27, 2018
And seemingly no query is too small. The service has also been tackling questions like why snow makes the sky light up or how many inches fell specifically in Prior Lake. It’s even helped out homeowners musing over when to shovel the driveway.
It would be best to shovel the slushy snow before temps drop below freezing. If you're in the Twin Cities, temps will drop below freezing after midnight tonight. You can view a detailed forecast for your location by entering your city or zip code at https://t.co/P0h03cZ4RZ— NWS Twin Cities (@NWSTwinCities) December 27, 2018
Michelle Margraf from the Twin Cities office says the Twitter hotline is something the service has been doing for a while, whenever possible. (As crazy as the weather gets in this state, it’s not always possible.) Forecasts vary greatly across Minnesota, she says. It’s nice for people to know exactly what’s going to happen along their route.
“We try to help as much as we can.”
So when you’re planning your travels, stay informed, be safe, and remember to tip your toque to the folks sitting behind their monitors, watching your back.