30 Years Ago This Week, Duluth Was the Epicenter for the Halloween Blizzard
It's one of the handful of weather events that I have vivid memories of, and many do, and this weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the historic Halloween Blizzard of 1991.
This blizzard dropped 37-inches of snow on Duluth, the most ever recorded for one single snow storm at the time. A large portion of eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin got 20+ inches of snow between Halloween and November 3rd. Sadly 22 people were killed during the storm and another 100 were injured.
It's hard to believe that this storm was 30-years ago, I asked around the radio station for some memories or stories about the storm, and quickly realized that half the staff here at the station weren't even born yet, so no stories from them, I guess.
I remember working at the haunted house at the Anoka County Fairgrounds, just outside the Twin Cities, on Halloween night, inside the farm building where the haunted house was set up, we could hear the wind whipping around outside, and it was clear that we were in for a big storm. I believe they closed the haunted house early that night, as road conditions were getting bad, very fast.
We were essentially stuck in our house for at least 24 hours, if not longer, and reminder to the younger crowd, there was no Netflix, no TikTok, no 65-inch flat screen 4K TVs. I survived with the radio, over the air TV, and my Nintendo, everything a teenager in 1991 would need. When we did eventually get out and drive, I was amazed to find that the road had become a two-way road with an 8-foot wall of snow between the lanes, and snow equally high on either side, basically a tunnel with no roof, it towered over the car. The photo above is a young me enjoying the snow left behind by the blizzard, I'm embarrassed by the snowsuit, those colors?! Ick!
Jeanne Ryan from MIX 108 shared a memory of the Halloween Blizzard, "I was living in an apartment in Minneapolis at the time and for whatever reason felt compelled to dig my car out even though I would not be able to go anywhere. Of course, I did not have a shovel, so I used a baking pan to dig my car out. It took hours and the road did not get plowed for 2 days, so I was stuck anyway." Wow, a baking pan, that had to take a while Jeanne, thanks for sharing.
Ken Hayes from B105 had a similar story about being buried under all the snow, but with a happy ending, "We opened our tuck under garage, and it was a complete wall of snow. We had to hack our way out with a shovel, just to get around to the front door to shovel it away so we could get out. We saw a neighbor using a large grater and paid him money to dig us out. But, we had some killer snow forts that year."
And, Mary Niemeyer Duluth Market President for Townsquare Media said, "I braved the storm to go to the bar to enter my World Champion Minnesota Twins carved pumpkin into the pumpkin carving contest, because I thought I had the winner. Risked my life for a lousy $50 gift card." LOL, I think we've all been there, Mary, I hope you won at least.
Lucky for us, there were lots of people running around with large VHS camcorders, so there are lots of great videos on YouTube of the aftermath, check out this video shot in Duluth after the storm passed.
Here's a compilation of Duluth TV news covering the storm and the aftermath it left behind.