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Record snowfall hits the Upper Midwest

Rare, but not unheard of in October

Snow on the ground outside a home in Minneapolis Tuesday.
Snow on the ground outside a home in Minneapolis Tuesday. (WKMG)

TWIN CITIES, MN – Record-breaking snowfall hit parts of the Upper Midwest Tuesday.

While snow isn’t unheard of this time of year, heavy snowstorms are rare.

The reason large amounts of snow are rare for this time of year has a lot to do with how much deep cold air is around.

Usually, late October doesn’t have deep layers of cold air.

The deep layers of cold air come later in November.

Also, the ground is still warm enough to melt most snow on the ground pretty quickly, leaving little to no snow behind.

This wasn’t the case when Tuesday’s storm came barreling through.

The National Weather Service Twin Cities bureau showed Minneapolis, Minnesota racking up 7.9″ of snowfall beating the record of 3 inches of snow that fell on that day in 1916. Tuesday quickly set a new record for the heaviest storm to happen so early in the season.

Snow on the ground outside a home in Minneapolis Tuesday.
Snow on the ground outside a home in Minneapolis Tuesday. (WKMG)

Eau Claire, Wisconsin had 6.9 inches of snowfall on Tuesday. This beat the prior record of 2 inches that fell almost 40 years ago, in 1982. It’s also the highest daily snowfall total in October to fall in 95 years. The previous record was 5 inches in 1925.

Snowfall records set on Oct 20, 2020 from NWS Twin Cities.
Snowfall records set on Oct 20, 2020 from NWS Twin Cities. (National Weather Service)

Some of the earliest historical blizzards for Minnesota happened around this time of year. The earliest blizzard in Minnesota happened on the Oct. 16 in 1880. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there were 20-foot drifts in southwestern and west-central counties that stuck around through the spring.

Another October blizzard event for the record books happened on the 19th and 20th back in 1916. This blizzard brought nearly 15 inches of snow and a 50-degree temperature drop to western counties.

Many residents in Duluth and the Twin Cities still talk about the Halloween Blizzard of 1991. This was a four-day storm that dumped 28 inches of snow in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Duluth was hammered even harder receiving 36.9 inches of snow leaving many roads closed for days.

Halloween Blizzard of 1991 produced 36.9 inches of snow in Duluth.
Halloween Blizzard of 1991 produced 36.9 inches of snow in Duluth. (National Weather Service)

The Department of Natural Resources even noted it was possibly one of the largest and longest-lasting blizzards in Minnesota state history adding up to 63 million dollars in damages just to utilities. Over 100 people were hurt and twenty-two people lost their lives.

More snow is expected Wednesday night into Thursday and snow is projected to hit again this weekend. Potentially record-setting cold air could plunge as far south as west Texas by Friday.


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