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Calm Midweek, Before Weekend Winter Storm?

The weather pattern remains mostly quiet midweek but this may change by the weekend as confidence is increasing on a winter storm along the East Coast. On Wednesday, expect below normal temperatures for the Eastern half of the U.S., locally heavy snow in the southern Rockies and High Plains, showers and isolated thunderstorms in Florida and air stagnation issues in the Northwest. Read More >

Overview

The snowstorm that hit parts of the Northland starting around Halloween (October 31 - November 3) in 1991 was an impressive storm in many respects, and it is still remembered by many people across the region. In fact, this storm was set up, in part, by the weather patterns that caused the "Perfect Storm" that struck the East Coast of the United States, and was famously depicted in Sebastian Junger's book. Moreover, the "Perfect Storm" was beginning to wind down in the Northeast on Halloween, around the same time that Minnesota was starting to see heavy snow creeping in. To have two exceptional storms impacting the continental United States at the same time is quite rare.

During the height of trick-or-treating the storm began as rain, then changed quickly to freezing rain and before the evening was over, it was snowing. It continued to snow for two more days, with final totals of 36.9 inches at the Duluth Airport and 45 inches in Superior. A large area of more than 20 inches of snow covered most of the northwest quarter of Wisconsin from Bayfield to River Falls and near the eastern half of Minnesota. At times the snow fell at a rate of two inches per hour and was accompanied by thunder and lightning. In addition, winds gusting to to 40 mph created huge snowdrifts and zero visibility.

Fast Facts:

  • At the time, the 36.9" of snow that fell at Duluth set the state record for storm total snowfall. That was surpassed in 1994.
  • Snow began in Duluth at about 1:00 pm on October 31st, and did not end until 1:00 pm on November 3rd, meaning that snow fell continuously on the city for about 72 hours.
  • Moderate to heavy snow fell in Duluth with as much as 2 inches per hour from about 11:00 am on November 1st to about 2:00 am on November 2nd - about 15 hours.
  • Blowing snow was reported in Duluth for 33 consecutive hours, starting at 2 PM on November 1st. Winds regularly gusted to between 30 and 40 MPH. Visibilities were frequently near zero across much of the region.
  • Visbility in Duluth was less than a mile for 26 hours during the storm, including an 11-hour stretch with visibility 1/2 mile or less on November 1st.
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Total Snowfall, Halloween Storm, October 31-Nov 3, 1991
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