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The Great Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1983

Just wondering if anyone else remembers the big snowstorm of ’83? It actually hit the night before Thanksgiving. I was working at what was called the Duluth Arena then and we got snowed in. I got to pull my car inside and sleep in the auditorium mezzanine. It was pretty sweet. We took an Arena ice truck and tried to get to Superior for some beer, but had to turn back. We did manage to walk down in the middle of the blizzard and eat at Godfather’s on London Road, right before they closed up shop. I remember we even managed to throw a snowball or two at Jack McKenna’s weather window on Michigan Street.

Good times.

The coolest thing about this monster blizzard was the thunder and lighting. That was the first time I had ever seen that, and I don’t think it’s happened since.

21 Comments

Jeff

about 10 years ago

I recall thunder and lightning about two years ago in a heavy snow storm.  The whole place lit up blue- was kinda freaky!

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

It should be noted that the photo in this post is not from the actual 1983 blizzard. Fond du Luth Casino didn't exist then.

Max Caevn

about 10 years ago

These kind of posts are why I love PDD. I may not have even been alive for the storm, but the story and the picture give me a very warn nostalgic feeling about Duluth.

@ original poster what did you do at the arena?

samh

about 10 years ago

I can back up Jeff's comment.  There was thundersnow during a winter storm in '05/'06.  Yes, thundersnow is a real term.  Look it up.

zra

about 10 years ago

It wasn't Thanksgiving, but:

the Big E

about 10 years ago

There's been thundersnow on a number of occasions in recent years.  I don't think I'd ever encountered it prior to five years ago or so (I've only lived here about 10 years), but since then I think it's happened at least 2 or 3 times.

Rubber Chicken

about 10 years ago

Paul, you are correct.  Fond-du-Luth was not around.  In fact, during that blizzard I remember Superior Street being all ripped up during its reconstruction because of the freeway.  Murphy's was a freestanding bar that we walked by and is no longer around either.

Max, I was on the labor crew at the Arena.  That meant I set up for various events they had, then came in and tore down/cleaned up after them.  I have a TON of great backstage stories for various concerts over the years (Pat Benatar, Huey Lewis, Barry Manilow, etc.)

Max Caevn

about 10 years ago

@ OP

Cool, I only ask because I worked in the Concessions department for 3 years. I was a commissary attendant. This was all recent though, DECC times.

Mac

about 10 years ago

March 1, 2007 blizzard featured mucho thundersnow.

Wes Scott

about 10 years ago

I was in Duluth that winter in Feb of 83
and recall alot of snow that winter. I was
snowed in at a motel on London Drive called
the Viking which is long gone. When was
the highway put in? I can't recall the year?
I was thinking about that the last time
I drove through in Sept. on the way to the
North Shore.

akjuneau

about 10 years ago

On any other day of the year I might be perturbed at one of my photos being used without credit, but it's Thanksgiving, so I'll be thankful that at least one person in the world liked the blizzard shot of Superior Street that accompanies this post.

FYI - it was taken during the height of the March 1-2, 2007, blizzard as I walked home from work just after midnight on March 2. One of the most awesome experiences I've had here in Duluth.

zra

about 10 years ago

[email protected] ak: i think that's the same blizz as tamara's vid i posted above. we were living on E 6th then.

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

If I remember correctly, 1983 was kind of a volatile year for storms. I don't remember the snowstorm (I was only 10), but that summer there were several large thunderstorms/tornado watches. I remember spending a lot of time crouched in the basement. 

During one thunderstorm, the wind blew the chimney off our house and it fell down and smashed the neighbor's back porch. Luckily there was no one standing there at the time.

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

I got into a lot of trouble at old St. Michael's school.  Tried the old, "What word starts with 'F' and ends in 'ck' joke."  (firetruck) in the lunchroom.  

Instead of suspending me for the day they just took me out of class and had me shovel snow all afternoon. Punishments are a lot more creative (and occasionally more redemptive) at Catholic Schools.  Little did they know that forced labor was a lot more fun than sitting in school for me.  There was fresh air, an endless mound of falling snow to keep me focused and the janitor seemed to appreciate my work ethic (even though no one appreciated my vaguely dirty little joke).  

--  

Yes there was lightning.  A large tree by the Congregational Church on about 39th E and Superior St was struck by lightning. I was living nearby at the time and nearly lost it when that happened as I was outside ... you guessed it ... shoveling snow.  I worked pretty hard that day.  But looking back it's a good memory.  You know how those things go.

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

Nice photo AK, I bet rubber chicken meant no harm in posting it.  At risk of hijacking, please provide some guidance on what is a proper etiquette to use pictures on PDD (and elsewhere online) and how to credit the author. I imagine that many photogs would feel ok about someone using/appreciating their work (if they are credited, natch).

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

PDD's policy is as follows:

If you are using an image from another Web site, make sure to attribute the photographer if possible and link to the site you obtained the image from, unless it's a publicity photo or public-domain stock photo.
While many photographers might not mind if you use their work with attribution, just as many absolutely despise it. And most would consider the use of it without attribution to be outright theft. So while PDD's policy states that you may use photos with attribution and a link, the preferred method is to only use your own photos, and if you can't do that, use none at all.

Rubber Chicken

about 10 years ago

Sorry all.  Didn't know the policy on photos.  I have taken it down.  Certainly meant no harm.  It is an awesome photo!

Lord Phosphorus

about 10 years ago

There was much thunder and lightning during a blizzard that took place during the first few days of December in 1970. It knocked out the power in the East End of Superior and got us out of school early.

akjuneau

about 10 years ago

You can put that photo back if you want (I don't mind in this case).

And, I saw thunder and lightning during that storm. If I remember correctly, it came earlier in the evening of March 1.

ericswan

about 10 years ago

During the Halloween megastorm of 1991 there was thundersnow complete with  green lighting. A very surreal couple of days.

mrs. G

about 10 years ago

Back when there was a little parking lot across the street from Electric Fetus I used to hang out at Urban Grounds coffee shop, on the corner across from the casino on 2nd Ave East, where Downtown Computer is now.  This was in 1994, I believe, because I was not yet 21. I definitely witnessed some thundersnow right there on Superior Street.  My dad's '88 Reliant wagon was buried in that parking lot for three days.  My girlfriend and I ended up walking in that storm all the way to a friend's place in the Emerson that night.  Good times.

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