Let's face it - getting around the Twin Ports in the winter can be tough.  Not only do we get the brunt of all that Mother Nature throws our way in the winter (I.E. snow, ice, cold) but we also live in a community that's built on a hill right next to a body of water that acts like an ocean.  To say that our roads can be treacherous at times would be an understatement.

That said all of those winter conditions never seem to affect the ability to get around for true Northlanders.  Even at it's worst (like a blizzard, white-out) you never see the roads completely clear of traffic.  School and businesses do close on occasion, but usually things stay open and folks manage to navigate their vehicles to and from their destinations.

So how do they do it?  One thing that separates an expert winter driver from a novice is the knowledge of which roads to take - or - which roads not to take when the weather gets bad. The problem is everyone has a different opinion on which roads to avoid when the snow (and the ice!) start to fly.

To make things easier for you, we've compiled a list of roads to avoid in the Duluth-Superior area when the weather gets rough in the winter.  Here in no particular order are our results.

  • West 3rd Street - Downtown Duluth

    You could argue that all of the streets in downtown get bad when there's a snow storm, but West 3rd Street gets the most attention on the hazard list.

    At first glance, you'd think that there wouldn't be a problem with West 3rd Street;  it doesn't run down the hill towards the lake like avenues do in the downtown area.  However, park yourself on the street sometime near the hospitals and look to the west;  that steep grade that this street takes as it crests over Obervation Hill creates the problems for drivers.

  • Any Avenue In Downtown Duluth

    The Zenith City is built on a hill that leads to Lake Superior.  The "down"-roadways are avenues and that creates many potential problems in the middle of winter.  Some of these avenues - especially the ones just west of Lake Avenue - are the steepest in Duluth.

  • 21st Avenue East - Duluth

    One of the few major artery roadways that cut through the city with a direction towards the interstate and Lake Superior, 21st Avenue East can be misleading.  At first glance, it doesn't appear very steep.  However, you'll probably rethink that assessment as you try to navigate the series of controlled-intersections.  21st Avenue East has a way of making you gain speed on the way down;  that same hill also provides problems for vehicles on the way up.

  • 40th Avenue West - Duluth

    Even though this roadway is usually well plowed and sanded, 40th Avenue West is built on a very steep hill.  While this roadway provides a necessary way to get from the top of the hill/mall area to West Duluth, it's best to be cautious using it during a snowstorm. Even if you navigate the incline with ease, there's that hairpin curve by Skyline Parkway that can be a white-knuckle experience.

  • Woodland Avenue - Duluth

    Woodland is another one of those hit-or-miss roadways in the winter.  For the most part, city crews keep this avenue well plowed, salted, and sanded.  But it's a long stretch of road;  the farther you get from downtown the more wide-open some spots get which allows for blowing and drifting of snow.

  • Howard Gnesen Road - Duluth

    Like many rural roadways, Howard Gnesen Road's problems come with its length.  The road cuts from Lakewood Township back into the city and provides a main route for a lot of people.  However, along the way - there are many areas where open fields and undeveloped areas allow the wind to blow and drift;  it's that drifting that creates obstacles and slippery spots.

  • College Street (Between St Scholastica and UMD)

    Located right in the heart of the area bordered by UMD and the College of St Scholastica, College Street provides a route between the two educational institutions.  It also can get slippery in the winter.

  • Mesaba Avenue & Trinity Road/Highway 53 - Duluth

    Even though they are separate roads, I've combined them in the listing because they have three things in common:  (1) They're the main routes from the top of the hill to the downtown/lake area;  (2) They accumulate ice and snow;  (3) People disagree whether or not to take them in a snowstorm.

    One things for sure - both Mesaba Avenue and Highway 53/Trinity Road receive immediate attention from road crews.  They're usually plowed well, salted and sanded, and patrolled by police and response vehicles.

    However, none of that gets around the fact that these roads are built without much of respite from the slope of the hill.  They also see a lot of traffic.  That heavy volume of vehicles creates slick spots and makes for "moving targets" that you have to watch out for.  Wisdom says that it's not your driving skills you need to be worried about in bad weather - its those of the other drivers on the road.

  • Tower Avenue By The Fairgrounds - Superior

    On this stretch of road it's not a hill you need to worry about - it's the blowing and drifting of snow.  Between the Target area and South Superior, Tower Avenue doesn't have a lot to block the wind on either side.  On the east side is the fairgrounds and the raceway and on the west side there's a parking lot/field.  Throw in the airport tarmac and some empty lots and the wind often causes white-out conditions in this area.

  • Side Streets in Superior

    No offense to any of the road crews on the Wisconsin side of the bridges, but there is a big difference between how city streets get cleared in Duluth and Superior.  My opinion is that it has nothing to do with the employees that give it their all to clear the snow in the winter - but rather it's a budget situation.  Even though property taxes are higher in Superior that in Duluth, they seem to spend less on snow removal.  Side streets often remain unplowed for long stretches of time.