Top 5 Twin Ports Blizzards Since The Mid 1970’s
Duluth-Superior sits smack-dab in the middle of "snow country". A typical winter in the Northland sees at least two or three good sized snow storms before it's all said and done. Some years, we're treated to a blizzard. If you're reading this in one of the sunshine states and wondering to yourself "what is a blizzard" - then let me explain. The National Weather Service defines a blizzard the following way: "A blizzard means that the following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of 3 hours or longer; Sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater; and considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e., reducing visibility frequently to less than ¼ mile)". That said, what follows are some of the worst blizzards in Twin Ports history - going back to the mid 1970's in reverse order.
This blizzard caught a lot of people off guard. Like the rest of the country, Northlanders had been used to a few milder winters in a row - courtesy of El Nino. Mother Nature foreshadowed this storm for the Duluth and Superior by sending two feet of snow to Southern Minnesota the week before. After the front regrouped, the Twin Ports saw 20 inches of heavy, wet snow and 50 mile an hour winds.
Weather historians rank this one as the longest and heaviest blizzard in Minnesota's history - and they're probably right. Duluth saw over 37 inches of snow that left tall snowbanks that lasted the rest of the winter. Early predictions only called for a little snow to fall, but Mother Nature proceeded to go above-and-beyond for a storm that wouldn't quit.
As is often the case, this blizzard packed a one-two punch. The first of the snow came on the 16th - with 11 inches of snow recorded north of Duluth in International Falls. Just ten days later, an addition 14 inches fell - and the wind swept up the total to banks that were recorded at 7 feet high. Adding to the misery that winter was an additional blizzard that hit January 6th through the 8th. South of Duluth, they saw 26 inches of snow in the Red River Valley and winds whipped along at 50 miles per hour.
The 1980's were pretty snowy-winters - especially in Northern Minnesota. This particular storm stands out in the minds of Twin Ports residents for the wind. Duluth International records winds in excess of 90 miles per hour and up to 24 inches of snow fell in areas. Some schools remained closed for days and the cleanup took weeks.
Prior to the Halloween Mega Storm of 1991, this was the winter that most Northlanders looked at as the worst ever. January 10 - January 12 1975, a blizzard swept through - closing most roads in the state, leaving 20-foot drifts. Winds in the Twin Ports clocked in at 80 miles per hour and records were set with extra-low barometric readings. 14 people died and 21 storm-related heart attacks were recorded throughout Minnesota. Then, another storm came March 23 - March 24, 1975. This one added an additional foot of snow and racked up 100 mile an hour winds and 20-foot waves on Lake Superior. Many homes on the shore were damaged. Two days after that blizzard, another one came March 26 - March 29, 1975. Yet another foot of snow fell in the region.