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Heavy snow collapses Minneapolis Metrodome roof

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 6:22 PM GMT on December 12, 2010

A raging December blizzard buried Minneapolis, Minnesota under 17 inches of snow over the weekend, triggering the collapse early this morning of the air-inflated roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings football team. The storm roared out of Canada on Friday morning, bringing heavy snow, sustained winds of 25 – 35 mph, and blizzard conditions through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The heaviest snows occurred near Osceola, Wisconsin, where 23 inches fell. The storm also dumped 21" at Noisy Basin, Montana, 14" in Williston, ND, and 14" in Negaunee, MI. Officially, 17.1” of snow fell at the Minneapolis airport; 16.3” of it on Saturday. Saturday's snow amounted to 1.75” of melted precipitation, for a snow-to-water equivalent ratio of 9:1. For those of you who've ever shoveled snow know, that's a very wet, heavy snow, and its no wonder the roof of the Metrodome had trouble with such a huge weight of snow.

Figure 1. Amount of precipitation for the 24 hours ending at 1am EST Sunday, in melted snow equivalent. Up to two inches of precipitation fell (brown colors) near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Image credit: NOAA /NOHRSC.

In the wake of the storm, bitterly cold air from Canada will sweep southwards into the U.S., and high temperatures near 0°F are expected for Minneapolis on Monday. Lows near -30°F are expected in northern Minnesota near International Falls on Monday night. The cold will penetrate into Florida's orange groves Monday night, with lows in the mid-20s expected in Orlando.

Jeff Masters
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