DNR map highlights winter severity

While not at levels high enough to mark a severe winter, the Winter Severity Index continues to climb across northern Minnesota as snow persists on the landscape.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Developed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the index-or WSI, for short-is a means of measuring winter conditions based on the number of days with temperatures of 0 degrees or colder or snow of 15 inches or deeper.

The DNR developed the WSI "based on the premise that prolonged cold temperatures and deep snow can reduce overwinter survival of white-tailed deer."

The index can rise by 2 points daily if both temperature and snow conditions are met.

As of Thursday, most of northwest Minnesota had an index in the range of 100 to 119 points, based on a color-coded map the DNR compiles weekly throughout the winter to highlight statewide conditions. End-of-season values less than 100 points indicate a mild winter; values greater than 180 points indicate a severe winter.

Conditions are most severe in far northeast Minnesota, where the WSI as of Thursday was in the 120- to 139-point range everywhere except for a small swath of Lake and St. Louis counties, where the WSI was even higher and in the 140- to 159-point range.

A small pocket of far western Kittson County near the Red River had the highest number in northwest Minnesota, with a WSI in the 120- to 139-point range.

While temperatures finally have moderated, the WSI will continue to climb as long as there's 15 or more inches of snow on the ground. As of midweek, Itasca State Park had 18 inches of snow, Lake Bemidji State Park had 20 inches of snow, Lake Bronson State Park had 24 inches of snow and Hayes Lake State Park near Roseau, Minn., had 20 inches of snow.

-- Brad Dokken

Wet conditions force seasonal closures

Rain and flooding mean some roads and trails in Minnesota state forests, state parks, recreation areas and wildlife management areas will close temporarily, the DNR said. The closures, which result because the roads and trails aren't firm enough to support vehicle traffic without causing damage, could remain in effect until sometime in May, depending on weather conditions.

"These are normal spring closures that happen when roads and trails become wet and fragile," said Dave Schuller, state land programs supervisor for the DNR's Forestry Division. "We ask that people use good judgment, obey the closures and check the DNR website for updates. This is important for personal safety as well as avoiding damage to these roads and trails."

Road and trail users should pay particular attention to state forest closures. Generally, all roads and trails in a particular forest will be closed, but not always. Those that can handle motor vehicle traffic will remain open but may be restricted by gross vehicle weight. Signs will be posted at entry points and parking lots.

Information on road closures is available at www.mndnr.gov/closures and is updated by 2 p.m. Thursdays. However, closure signs may be in place before the website is updated.

Road and trail closure information also is available by contacting the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or by calling the center at (888) 646-6367 or (651) 296-6157 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

For information on roads and trails on county land, contact the county directly.

-- Minnesota DNR

Did you know?

• Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever's National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic, the nation's largest upland-themed event, will be held February 14-16, 2020, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The three-day celebration of upland habitat, hunting and conservation annually draws more than 20,000 supporters and will be presented by Federal Premium Ammunition.

• Anglers, trappers and hunters in North Dakota will need new licenses April 1. Licenses, which are effective from April 1 through March 31, 2020, can be purchased on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at www.gf.nd.gov, at more than 140 vendor locations throughout the state or by calling (800) 406-6409.

-- compiled by Brad Dokken