National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


A long-duration winter storm brought widespread snowfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches across parts of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, with areas around Lake Superior receiving over a foot of snow, over two feet in parts of northern Bayfield and Ashland counties. Following a cold front passage on the morning of Sunday Feb 20th, snow developed along an east-west oriented elevated warm front across central Minnesota and northern Wisconsin in the early morning hours of Monday Feb 21 (Washington's Birthday), very slowly lifting northward through the day on Monday. With low level winds out of the east-northeast and much of the Lake Superior ice-free away from shorelines, lake-enhanced bands of snow developed at times across western Lake Superior communities. In particular, a very narrow lake-enhanced band of snow developed near Washburn, WI (south of Bayfield, WI), which contributed to snowfall amounts as high as 33.5" falling across the long duration storm. Late Monday into Tuesday Feb 22, an area of low pressure deepened across the Mid Mississippi River Valley, which then tracked northeast towards the Lower Great Lakes on Tuesday Feb 22. Finally, an Arctic high pressure over the Canadian Prairies spread southward into the northern Great Plains and into the Upper Midwest Tuesday night into the morning of Wed Feb 23.

The storm resulted in a long period of poor road conditions, with strong winds causing blowing and drifting snow. Winds consistently gusted over 40 mph at the Duluth Sky Harbor airport on Monday Feb 21 between 6:00 am through 6:00 pm, and other observation sites around western Lake Superior reporting similar high winds. Peak wind gusts through this storm included 54 mph at the Bay of Grand Marais, 53 mph at Duluth Sky Harbor airport, and 51 mph at the Devils Island lighthouse (part of the Apostle Islands). 

Impacts from this storm were numerous, with most area school districts closed on Tuesday Feb 22. (Most were already closed on Monday Feb 21 due to the federal holiday; Duluth Public Schools were on a planned winter recess during the entire week.) The City of Duluth issued only the second Snow Emergency in city history, requiring vehicles along Snow Emergency Routes to be moved. Other communities including Brainerd, MN, Ashland, WI, and Washburn, WI also issued Snow Emergencies. Vehicle crashes on both the Blatnik and Bong bridges between Duluth and Superior caused brief closures at times on Monday due to the near whiteout conditions and heavy snowfall rates. US Highway 2 in Ashland was also closed late Monday night through Tuesday evening due to the strong winds causing blowing and drifting - a rare but not unusual closure where the highway runs along the lakeshore. 

Map of storm total snowfall.
Map of storm total snowfall across northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. (View interactive map.)
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