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It's time to take a look back at the top weather, water, and climate stories across the Northland from 2022, as decided on by the meteorologists at NWS Duluth. 

10: Extreme Cold Temperatures in January and February

Arctic air continuously poured across the Northland to start the new year. The departure from normal for the month of January ranged from -6 to -10F with February being -9 to -15F below normal. Wind chills regularly dropped below -40F with the coldest wind chill being -52F which was reached at Virginia and Cass Lake on January 1st, Cass Lake again on January 2nd and on February 24th near Birchdale.

9: New December Monthly Snowfall Record

We experienced the snowiest December on record at Duluth! 44.9" of snowfall was recorded at our office (the official snow location for Duluth) for the month beating the previous record of 44.3" set in 1950. Much of the snow fell during two large storms, which also made the list of top 2022 weather events.

8: March 5th, 2022, Ice Storm

Low pressure moved from northwestern Iowa to northern Lake Michigan on March 5th, spreading an area of freezing rain and snow across much of northwestern Wisconsin ahead of a warm front. Freezing rain moved in during the early morning hours of the 5th and lingered into the evening before transitioning over to snow overnight and tapering off the morning of the 6th. Ice accumulations of 0.25" to nearly 0.40" were reported across northwest Wisconsin with the highest report being 0.38" near Moquah, most of which fell in around six hours. Additionally, snowfall of up to 5 to 7 inches fell during the latter half of the storm with 7.5" accumulating near Washburn.


7: February 20-22, 2022, Winter Storm

A prolonged snowfall event occurred across northwestern Wisconsin beginning the morning of the 21st and lasting into the late evening hours of the 22nd and early morning hours of the 23rd. A strong area of low pressure moved from the Central Plains into the Mid-Mississippi Valley during this time period leading to multiple waves of snow that affected the Northland. Most of the region received at least 6 inches of accumulation by the time the storm ended with many areas receiving upwards of 1 foot of accumulation by the time snow ended. The Bayfield Peninsula was particularly hard hit with 33.5 inches piling up near Washburn by the time snow ended. Snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour were seen at times during the morning of the 21st across the Bayfield Peninsula as well. Check out our summary webpage covering the event.

6: June 20-21, 2022, Severe Storms

A warm front lifted across the Northland during the early morning hours of the 20th bringing an unusually warm and moist airmass to the region creating very unstable conditions by the afternoon hours. During the late evening hours, a very strong low level jet ramped up and led to the development of storms across central Minnesota that moved to the northeast. Additional storms developed on the backside of the initial wave with the severe storm potential tapering off just before midnight. The storms primarily produced tree damage as they worked across the region, but there was some marginally severe hail as well. A list of hail and wind reports from this event can be found here.


5: August 2, 2022, Severe Storms

A warm front moved across Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin during the afternoon hours of the 2nd bringing a warm and moist airmass to the region. Thunderstorms developed during the evening hours ahead of a cold front pushing in from the west. These storms produced hail to around 1.5 inches in diameter and heavy rainfall leading to some minor ponding of water in spots. These storms also produced wind damage across Burnett, Sawyer, Washburn and Price counties as they moved to the east leaving trees and powerlines down in their wake. A list of hail and wind reports from the event can be found here.


4: Pre-Christmas Winter Storm

A strong low pressure brought an initial wave of light fluffy snow across the region. After a brief lull in the snow, the departing low rapidly strengthened leading to blizzard conditions on both the North and South Shore. New snowfall of 4 to 8 inches plus along with winds gusting to 40 to 55 miles per hours led to widespread blowing snow and reduced visibility across parts of the region. Even stronger winds were reported on Lake Superior off the North Shore where an ore boat recorded a gust of 82 mph! On top of all this, very cold Arctic air was moving into the region as the low departed and, when coupled with the very strong winds, led to wind chills approaching -40F. This storm was the second in as many weeks that led to difficult travel across a large portion of the Upper Midwest and helped break the record for the most snow in the month of December at Duluth.

Snowfall Map
Snowfall Reports
Wind Reports
Wind Chills


3: Memorial Day Tornadoes and Severe Storms

A strong area of low pressure across the Northern Plains lifted a warm front across the Northland on Memorial Day morning. Showers and storms moved through during the morning hours with the atmosphere recovering during the afternoon hours. A few of the storms were severe during the morning and produced small hail and tree damage. An arc of thunderstorms developed across southwestern Minnesota and adjacent areas of Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa by the mid-afternoon hours and moved to the northeast and across the Northland for the late afternoon and evening hours. These storms were much stronger and contained very strong winds that produced widespread damage across the region. Additionally, there were a few embedded tornadoes with the storms with the strongest tornadoes producing EF-1 damage in the Deer River and Hinckley areas. A list of the wind, hail and tornado reports can be found here.

2: The "Blue" Blizzard of December 13-16, 2022

A powerful, long duration winter storm brought widespread snowfall amounts of 8 to 24 inches across parts of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, with areas around Lake Superior receiving up to 30 inches of snow. A wintry mixture of sleet, freezing rain and snow began Tuesday (December 13th) afternoon and evening, spreading northeast overnight Tuesday night and into Wednesday (December 14th) morning. This first wave of precipitation brought a widespread 6 to 12 inches of snow.  We had a break in the snowfall during the day on Wednesday, but it started up again Wednesday night and continued into Thursday (December 15th), bringing another 8-20 inches of snow.  This second wave of precipitation was nearly all snow, enhanced by the main upper level low pressure system as it moved close to the area.  Lighter snow lingered into Friday and Saturday, December 16th and 17th.  A low pressure system developed over eastern Colorado early Tuesday, moved northeast to eastern Nebraska by Wednesday morning, then to east-central Minnesota by Thursday morning, lingering there through Friday before moving off to the northeast Friday night and Saturday. 

The storm resulted in a long period of poor road conditions, with strong winds causing blowing and drifting snow. There were also widespread power outages, with some people reporting no power for over two days!

Notable with this storm was how wet and heavy the snow was, with 3-day liquid equivalent values of 1 to 4 inches. The wet quality of this snow, unusual for winter storms in this area, heavily weighed down trees and power lines. The density of the snowpack also exacerbated the quality of snow to absorb the red end of the visible light spectrum, transmitting the blue end, which led to many folks observing a glacier blue color in holes and cracks in the snow as they cleared it. Because of this blue color, as well as the very wet quality of the snowfall, NWS Duluth has taken to referring to this snow as the Blue Blizzard of 2022.

A photo of the blue hue from the snow.
Photo showing the blue hue from this storm's snow. (Courtesy Tammy Sable Stone)


1: Spring Flooding in the Rainy River Basin

Spring snowmelt, record April precipitation and frequent May rain events led to strong hydrologic responses within the Rainy Lake basin. Namakan Lake, Kabetogama Lake and Rainy Lake rose above the flood of record during the months of May and June before subsiding in July and returning to levels closer to normal. These high lake levels led to significant damage to homes and businesses along the shoreline along with docks and other related structures. Additionally, some roads were covered in water with one being temporarily raised to maintain access to a few resorts. In addition to the costs of the damage itself, many resorts in the area suffered from lost revenue by having to close during the beginning of peak tourist season in the area.