ASK THE DNR: Snowmobile operation requirements and odds for a white Christmas.
Q. With snow finally in the air, snowmobiles are coming out of storage. What training is required to legally operate a snowmobile in Minnesota? A. Minnesota law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1976 to take a safety training course before oper...
Q. With snow finally in the air, snowmobiles are coming out of storage. What training is required to legally operate a snowmobile in Minnesota?
A. Minnesota law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1976 to take a safety training course before operating a snowmobile on public lands or waters. For those 11 years old and older, there are two options. A classroom course consisting of multiple sessions followed by a hands-on riding course, or an online course that then requires a hands-on ride/review day. For those 16 years old and older, there is an independent study online course where students can complete their certification training at home.
Once they have successfully completed their courses, students are given instructions on how to receive a certificate from the DNR. Both courses show students the most common causes of snowmobile accidents and how to avoid them. Volunteers teach classes across the state. Information regarding snowmobile certification classes can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/safety/vehicle/snowmobile.
-- Capt. Jon Paurus
Paurus is education programs coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Enforcement Division.
Q. Historically speaking, how often do we have a white Christmas in Minnesota?
A. Having a white Christmas generally is defined as having 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day. In the Twin Cities, this happens about 72 percent of the time. In northern Minnesota, the chance of a white Christmas is 90 percent or greater. In the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Lake Superior Highlands, a white Christmas is almost guaranteed. The chances decrease to the south and west, down to about 60 percent in far southwestern Minnesota.
More info: mndnr.gov/climate/summaries_and_publications/white_christmas.html.
-- Pete Boulay
Boulay is assistant state climatologist.