The Famous Halloween Blizzard of 1991

Bill's Blog

An amazing snow and ice storm hit the Upper Midwest on Halloween in 1991. The storm produced all-time record snowfall amounts (for any storm) in a large part of Minnesota and NW Wisconsin. The storm also brought very significant icing to S. Minnesota and parts of Iowa. The storm caused 22 fatalities and approximately 100 injuries. There was an estimated 100 million dollars in damage, including 63 million to utilities and another 5 million in agricultural losses.

Snow totals from the Duluth area

Here’s some snow totals from the Duluth Area. Duluth had 72 hours of continuous snowfall and 15 hours of continuous moderate to heavy snow that fell at the rate of up to 2″ an hour. Duluth had 4.2″ on Oct. 31, 24.1″ on Nov. 1 and 36.9″ total. It was the most snow they had from any snowstorm. Combined with more snow that fell later in the month, they had not just the snowiest November, but also the snowiest month ever with 50.1″.

Halloween Blizzard Weather Map

The weather map showed a strong low pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean. That storm was called the Perfect Storm and a movie was made about it. With the Perfect Storm blocking the usual eastward movement of weather systems, the low pressure system that formed along the Mississippi River in W. Illinois moved north and rapidly deepened. Unseasonably cold air to the west of the low produced record low temperatures from Canada to Colorado and Nebraska. Bismarck ND had a record low of -10° on the 31st – that was 16° colder than their previous record low for the date.

This boat is going nowhere – after the Halloween Blizzard of 1991

The above pic. shows a boat, covered with snow. Winds gusted to 30-40 mph, blowing the snow into large drifts.

Shoveling snow after the Halloween Blizzard of 1991

Minneapolis had 8.2″ of snow on Oct. 31 (an October record) – then another 18.5″ on Nov. 1. They ended the month with 46.9″ – a new monthly record.

While we’ll have rain, maybe a little snow and some chilly temperatures this Halloween, it won’t be anything like the Halloween Blizzard of 1991.

To read more about the 1991 Blizzard go here and here. (pics. from Wikipedia and the Duluth NWS).

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