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A delight for outdoor fans

Upper Midwest gets dumped on, unlike last year's dearth.

MINNEAPOLIS - After enduring last year's snowless winter, skiers and snowmobilers may have despaired of ever seeing a decent snowfall again.

But fans of the wintry outdoors got their wish this weekend when a slow-moving storm dumped up to 16 inches of snow on parts of the Upper Midwest.

"With global warming in the back of your mind, you think, 'Jeez, is it ever going to snow again?' " John Munger of Minneapolis said Monday after a morning of cross-country skiing in a western Twin Cities park.

The dearth of snow has been tough on cross-country skiers, said Munger, who heads the Loppet Foundation - the "evangelists of cross-country skiing," as he explains it.

The Twin Cities saw only meager bursts of snow this season before the weekend storm, and the Twin Cities' heaviest snowfall last winter was 4.2 inches Dec. 3.

But with the fresh blast, Munger said, "I think people are pretty excited."

At Lutsen Mountains 90 miles northeast of Duluth, Minn., marketing director Jim Vick said you could "hear the hoots and hollers" as skiers took to the slopes amid the falling snow. The ski resort got up to 8 inches Sunday.

Vick said Monday that "folks really felt cheated by last winter because they just didn't get the snow, and they are dying for it."

In central Wisconsin, Randy Thurs of the Trailmates Snowmobile Club in Wausau said the burst of snow has him thinking about the forthcoming snowmobile season.

"Hopefully, we'll have a better season than we did last year," Thurs said Monday. The club of about 150 families grooms 80 miles of area snowmobile trails.

Normally, the trails would be open for a couple months, but were open only five days last year, he said.

The system dropped 10.6 inches of snow at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and up to 14 inches Sunday on parts of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis' heaviest snow since 11.8 inches Feb. 20, 2011.

A blizzard two years ago dumped 16.3 inches and caused the Metrodome roof to collapse. This time around, stadium officials resorted to blasting the heat in an effort to melt snow from the roof as quickly as possible; it stayed intact.

Slippery roads were blamed for hundreds of crashes and at least two deaths from Minnesota to Oklahoma, and two other deaths were related to the wintry weather.