The Deadliest MN Blizzard Was Not ’91, It Was The Armistice Day Blizzard [VIDEO]
I was there in 1991 for the Halloween Blizzard. It was tremendous. I remember our house having snow banked up so high that we opened the garage door to a wall of snow. Our generation considers this to be the worst blizzard in Minnesota history, but it actually really didn't compare to the 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard in terms of tragedy.
In terms of how much snow fell, the 91 storm wins that title. Anywhere from 2-3 feet of snow fell across the state. It was a really big deal, don't get me wrong. 22 people died during the storm, and lives were disrupted for some time afterwards.
The Armistice Day Blizzard on the other hand was less snow, but far more deadly. Over 150 people died during the weather event. This storm changed forever how forecasts and the National Weather Service operated. Minnesota got it's forecasts from the Chicago office, but that office was closed on Veterans (Armistice) Day. The weather was beautiful to start off the morning, and quickly turned into a blizzard by mid day dumping 16+ inches of snow.
No one was prepared in 1940 for a change to happen that quickly. Hunters went out in the morning wearing light coats and ended up getting stranded and freezing to death. Because of the tragedy of that storm, weather forecasting changed forever. The Minneapolis weather office was allowed to issue their own forecasts, and the Chicago office forever remained open 24 hours a day.
So when you think of some of the worst blizzards in Minnesota history, don't forget about Armistice Day 1940.