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Sauk Centre, Minnesota: near the corner of Ash Street and South 9th.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009 Midwest Storm, Christmas Day

The plows have come by, again, since last night: and I'm pretty sure they'll be by again before this weather passes.

What You're Looking At

This webcam looks out a window on the north side of a house in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. This town is almost exactly in the center of Minnesota, so when you hear "central Minnesota" - it doesn't get much more "central" than this.

For those who know Sauk Centre, or live here: The house is on the corner of South Ash Street and 9th, about a block west of the high school parking lot.

The camera is looking northwest, more or less.

This is one of the busier corners in residential Sauk Centre. Obviously, it's no Los Angeles freeway: and I don't mind that a bit. South Ash street is one of two north-south arterial streets in this town, and South 9th - when it isn't used by a horde of highschoolers driving away from school - connects to State Street, which connects to County Road 186: so anyone driving into town from the southeast and headed for downtown is likely to drive by here.

Where's the Howling Wind? The Driving Snow?

For starters, this webcam doesn't have sound. Not yet, anyway. I could set things up so you hear what's happening inside the window: but I don't think either of us really wants that. I do most of my work here, so there's a lot of keys clicking and the occasional rustle of paper. That, and my occasional muttering to myself.

At this moment, there's light snowfall. You'll see the occasional flake caught near the window, in silhouette. And not all that much wind. Driving around it town is pretty easy, thanks to the plow crew. One of the plows went by as I wrote this post.

In open country, between towns, I'd just as soon not try to drive. Unless I was on a snowmobile, or some other cross-country vehicle that's designed for these conditions.

As the National Weather Service puts it:

"A winter storm warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Significant amounts of snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous. Only travel in an emergency. If you must travel...Keep an extra flashlight...Food...And water in your vehicle in case of an emergency."
(Winter Storm Warning / Stearns (Minnesota), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (Last update: 12.25.09 - Fri - 01:26:13 PM (EST)))

I'm inclined to take reasonable precautions in weather like this. As I wrote in another blog:

"...Storms like this are potentially lethal. I won't soon forget the time a father and daughter thought they'd drive on the road running across the south side of Fargo's airport. I saw the meat wagon go out for their bodies, when that storm had passed...."
("Christmas Blizzard/Winter Storm Coming" Sauk Centre Journal Blog(December 22, 2009))

As it turned out, this is more of a winter storm than a blizzard here - not enough wind.
That's Funny: It Doesn't Look Like a Storm
Like I said, here in town it's fairly nice weather - for central Minnesota in late December.

This webcam's at least a sixth of a mile to the edge of Sauk Centre's urban forest. Those trees make a big difference.

Out in the country, it'd look a bit different. I grew up in the Red River Valley of the North before it got built up, so the farmland around here looks crowded to me. But it's not all that hard to find a stretch of road that's a quarter-mile or more from the nearest tree, and when snow is falling and wind is moving around a few inches of snow that's fallen: sometimes you won't be able to see where the road is. And it won't matter, because your car is stuck in the snow.

The Lovely Snowy Landscape of Wintertime Minnesota

With a little common sense and forethought, though, you can enjoy the Currier-and-Ives winter scene. And watch other people getting their sidewalks cleared.

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