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Let’s Talk About the Weather

For those who are too young to remember and/or didn’t live around here at the time, 20 years ago today our area experienced one of the craziest blizzards in history. The News Tribune Attic has a great retrospective, and you should check it out for photos and a timeline of local events.

The Halloween Megastorm was part of, or at least coincided with, what became known as The Perfect Storm, “a nor’easter that absorbed Hurricane Grace and ultimately evolved into a small hurricane late in its life cycle.”

What we experienced in Minnesota was a blizzard that lasted from October 31 – November 3, and dumped 36.9 inches of snow on Duluth. The entire city pretty much shut down for that period of time. Later that month, another blizzard cycled through the area, establishing our current record for the most snowfall in any month: a total of 50.1 inches.

28 Comments

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

I spent most of the weekend drinking Cold Spring beers and smoking non-synthetic marijuana in my dorm somewhere in Central Minnesota.  A noteworthy exception was when I trudged over through 3 feet of snow and even deeper drifts and opened up our college radio station the next day.  No one else was around so I could do pretty much whatever I liked and it ended up being an epic (amateur) radio experience.  I have a cassette (a box of cassettes from that time period, actually) sometime I will try to figure out converting them to digital and posting snippets online, mostly for my own gratification but it might be fun for others to listen in on, too.

bluenewt

about 8 years ago

I was in the Cities and I remember that some people cross country skied to work downtown.

zra

about 8 years ago

So. Jealous.

I was in Seattle that year. Got back in port from being underway in mid November down in Socal for a month and returned to the sound just before a big snowstorm hit the city.

Paralyzed everything.

At the time Seattle had 16 snowplows.

Not nearly enough.

Claire

about 8 years ago

I lived in North Carolina in 1991. We never did get that much snow. But the "black ice" was a bitch.

girlfromnorthcountry

about 8 years ago

I lived in Kenwood at the time. Went to a Halloween party in Lakeside - no snow. Hours later, my car could barely get over the hill. My boyfriend at the time worked nights downtown; he walked through waist-deep snow to my house after his shift and we hunkered down for the storm. If you didn't have a snowmobile you just waited it out.  It was awesome.

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

I remember after things cleared up I took the bus downtown, and the bus was crammed with people. At the Holiday Center, there was a pile of snow on the edge of Superior Street that was over six feet tall. Everyone had to file through a narrow channel carved into the snowbank to get on the bus.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

After the storm, Gary Doty defeated John Fedo to become mayor of Duluth. I was 18, and it would have been my first chance to vote, but I was stranded in Oshkosh. I'll never leave town on Election Day again.

samh

about 8 years ago

People talk of "snowmageddon" or "snowpocalypse" or whatever but I've witnessed few storms that were as epic as the Halloween storm of '91.

HappyHippo

about 8 years ago

20 years ago?  Really??  I was just a kid, way up in the sticks on the Iron Range.  Pretty sure my parents still drove my brother and I around trick-or-treating a bit, but I don't really remember.  I do remember watching the snow piling up outside.  

Damn, now I feel old.

Frank Nichols

about 8 years ago

I was broke and went out and shoveled people out for 25 bucks. The snow was up to their roofs. I made a hundred dollars and didn't walk right for three days.

Lojasmo

about 8 years ago

Tried to drive to the twin cities for a concert.  Made it fifteen miles before turning back.  Twenty years?  Damn.

Jim Willmore

about 8 years ago

I was a grad student at UWS at the time and several people got stuck at our house after a Halloween party...when the beer and provisions ran out on the 2nd day, I packed up my little red sled and headed to the Belknap Liquor Store and restocked...good times!

DaVe

about 8 years ago

I lived at Emerson then and played a gig at the Reef Halloween night. Made it home afterward, then our crazy guitar player slept on my couch and drove home to Wisconsin the next day, careening down 11th Ave West, which looked more like a bobsled track than a street. Miraculously, he made it home.

Endion

about 8 years ago

I was 13 years old and lived in the cities.  I always thought we got it worse down there than anywhere else, but who knows.  

There were people snowmobiling downtown Mpls...  Everything was shut down everywhere.

We talk about it so much, but I wonder if we went back to then if we would still think it was so bad?  I feel like plows are better nowadays and it made us way more cautious of the storms.

I always wish we could have another one that big, it was fun.  I love the challenge of a great storm.  I still remember driving down to the cities for Thanksgiving or Christmas a few years ago through a blizzard and passing people on the unplowed side.  Cars everywhere in the ditch along the way is scary, but when you survice living in Minnesota you wear it like a badge of courage.  Usually the ones in the ditch are the SUVs, but our little Geo Prizm cuts through snow like a knift.  I hate when people stop or go too slow in a storm... They cause most of the accidents and end up in the ditch.  Just go with it and drive the car like a snowmobile!

I can't wait until the next blizzard now that I jinxed myself.

Lojasmo

about 8 years ago

I drove out to ski during the worst blizzards last year.  The first time, the trip back, which usually takes 45 minutes, took over two hours.  I love snow.

zra

about 8 years ago

The NYE snowstorm last winter was prime grillin weather...which was nice, considering the night before was all rain.

Ashley S

about 8 years ago

I was dressed up as a witch for Halloween when it started snowing. My mom HATES driving in the snow so she convinced the neighbor and her kids to drive their van around the neighborhood a bit.  We lived on 11th Ave. W. (two blocks down from Emerson) and couldn't get the van up the hill when we got back.  I remember being stuck inside for the next few days and then helping my dad shovel out his car to get to work.  He had to take his car because he's a rural mail carrier and the snow made it impossible for a couple of days. We then watched multiple cars slide down the hill and run into the cars in the parking lot below first street.  Crazy day!

doubledutch

about 8 years ago

I was in sixth grade, living in Wayzata.  I remember watching the snow through the window and getting out of school early.  My best friend Liv and I wanted to jump off the deck into the snow but my grandmother wouldn't let us.  I didn't really have any concept of how the storm affected anyone else.  I just thought it was awesome to stay home and play in the snow.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

I was in law school in St Paul, and lived in a loft-like apartment with a wall of huge, floor to ceiling windows.  The snow was coming down so hard that it looked like God was throwing down thick, packed buckets of snow.  Everything was shut down.  I stood in front of my big windows and just watched this magnificent storm.  It was so exciting.  Never seen anything like it, and I'm so glad I was around to see that.

zra

about 8 years ago

Seems like it doesn't really stop many people from doing something. 

I can guarantee that on any given night during the height of the snowstorm, I can gear up and hike down to the bowl and write my name in the snow, head over to Carmody and there'll be 15-20 folks in there...snowshoes and skis parked out front in the snowbank...

z-man

about 8 years ago

Twins winning the World Series into Halloween Megastorm was a week I will not ever forget!

Which is more epic? '91 Twins World Series or Megastorm?

RS

about 8 years ago

I went trick or treating, and ironically that year I went as a sled dog.  I used to LOVE sled dogs and my grandma had made my costume.

speechie

about 8 years ago

I was 10, and can't remember what I was for halloween that year, but I know it was padded with snowpants year. The neighbor girls and I convinced my dad to take us trick-or-treating regardless of the weather, and he pulled the youngest of us in a sled. I remember it was a very fruitful endeavor, as many people did not have such convinceable fathers and our pillowcases were full to the brim.

Later that night, I remember being in the car trying to get it to move so we could bring my mom to work at the hospital in Superior. I believe she had to work at least a double.

heysme

about 8 years ago

There was no talk of canceling or changing Halloween in 1991 as in the North East this year.

In 1991 we were out, going door to door, actually the kids were getting more candy due to the low turnout.

It was a wonderful few days - thankfully, I live near the Plaza so supplies were easily accessible.

Ravenous Pigmeat

about 8 years ago

I was in 8th grade. My older brother, who went to UMD at the time and I made a killing shoveling the sidewalks and driveways in our neighborhood. We made around $300 total, and even shoveled a few for free (we had a few elderly people in the neighborhood who couldn't get out). We tackled our driveway first, and our snow blower blew up before we got three feet into our driveway from the garage. 

We also spent day two running errands for people in the neighborhood, taking sleds down to the old Snow White store on Woodland to get supplies. There wasn't much to choose from, I remember, but we did rent movies and Nintendo games. 

One last thing: we did manage to jump from our deck railing into the snow (like pro wrestlers off the turnbuckle). The fall wasn't very far with all the snow we had. It was a good time all around - a challenge, to be sure, but it really built some bonds between the neighbors.

Bret

about 8 years ago

I lived in St. Paul.  We "only" got 28 inches.  I got half the driveway dug out then looked at the rest of the alley and streets and gave up.  Walked to the end of the alley and had a pint a Sweeney's.

zra

about 8 years ago

I totally woulda grilled it.

Fred

about 8 years ago

Buried and barricaded in Emerson School with my two sons 8 & 6 who had bags of candy from the neighborhood from the night before. Their mother (in Superior) was furious that I could not/would not bring them home as I only had custody of them for the night. It was another three days before the plow got through the alleyway. My car, parked in back, was completely buried with just an antennea sticking out. No TV to watch, just the usual entertainment from Torr & Odio and all the strange residents of Emerson. It was wonderful.

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