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St. Patrick's Day weather covers the gamut: Snowpack recedes, moderate melt reduces flood concerns

Parade participants sported short sleeves during the 2016 St. Patrick's Day parade in Crosslake. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal file photo

What a difference a few days can make.

The recent warmup chopped 8 inches off the substantial snowpack in the lakes area. Mountainous snow piles on either side of narrowed driveways receded in recent days, a testament to the growing strength of the sun, melting effects from recent rains, and the inevitable march toward spring.

The snow depth dropped from a high of 24 inches March 10 down to 16 inches as of Thursday. Ice dams, just days ago a headache for homeowners, rapidly reduced to a fraction of their former size or vanished altogether.

After rain and a rapid melt caused widespread street flooding and pushed water into some area basements and into school buildings, temperatures dropped to the upper 20s in the predawn hours Friday and remained near the freezing mark during the day. The mix of dropping below freezing at night and rising above during the day creates a slower-paced meltdown of the snowpack.

"A mainly dry forecast during the long term, combined with temperatures above freezing during the day and below freezing overnight, will support continued priming of the snowpack across

the Northland and a gradual melt," the National Weather Service reported Friday. "The risk of snowmelt flooding is low during this forecast period."

Temperatures should really move into the springlike zone this week with daytime highs expected to reach 40 degrees Tuesday and continue climbing from there with sunny skies bringing highs that flirt with 50 degrees by Friday.

Weather conditions as of St. Patrick's Day have varied widely in the lakes area over the years, from celebratory highs in the 70s to chilly parade watching conditions with highs in the 20s and from bare ground to nearly a foot of snow underfoot.

In 2012, the high reached into the 70s for the holiday and rose to 77 degrees the following day. But those who hoped to repeat that T-shirt experience the following year had to instead reach for their winter gear with a high of 23 degrees during the day and a low of 18 below for March 17, 2013—a frigid 27-degree departure from the norm. In 2015, a high of 70 degrees came just two days before St. Patrick's Day, which topped out at 43 degrees.

This year won't be the first with a considerable snowpack or freshly fallen snow. Last year, the National Weather Service noted the snow depth was 11 inches as of March 17 but the parade day had deep blue skies and temps nearing 50 degrees.

St. Patrick's Day temperatures through the years

2000—34 degrees

2001—40 degrees

2002—40 degrees

2003—54 degrees

2004—40 degrees

2005—34 degrees

2006—37 degrees

2007—39 degrees

2008—35 degrees

2009—52 degrees

2010—53 degrees

2011—51 degrees

2012—73 degrees

2013—23 degrees

2014—36 degrees

2015—43 degrees

2016—37 degrees

2017—37 degrees

2018—48 degrees

Source: National Weather Service.