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Taking a look back at monster storms of Halloweens past

Haunting details from blizzards to hurricanes

Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 1991: The "Halloween Blizzard" began while children in the Upper Midwest were trick-or-treating and dumped an all-time record accumulation of 36.9 inches of snow in Duluth, Minn. In Iowa, ice shut down Interstate 35 and left 80,000
Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 1991: The "Halloween Blizzard" began while children in the Upper Midwest were trick-or-treating and dumped an all-time record accumulation of 36.9 inches of snow in Duluth, Minn. In Iowa, ice shut down Interstate 35 and left 80,000

Nearly 30 years have passed and The Halloween Blizzard of 1991 still haunts many Minnesota residents from the Twin Cities to Duluth.

That trick-or-treat forecast started with rain that quickly turned into heavy snow complete with howling winds that lasted for three days.

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At the same time, the remnants of Hurricane Grace over the Atlantic were drawn into a cold front moving south from Canada, which produced a monster storm.

The two unique weather set ups quickly made history. One storm even made it to the New York Times Best Sellers List and the big screen.

The Halloween blizzard of 1991

Snow in Minnesota in October happens. In fact, just last week there was record snowfall in Minneapolis.

It wasn’t Halloween that made this blizzard so unique, it was the weather set up. The Arctic air mass that moved toward the Twin Cities produced enough cold air and moisture so that there was not only record snowfall, but it lingered for three days. Most snowfall this time of year is usually gone in a day due to the ground staying fairly warm and the lack of really deep cold air around.

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)

To this day, the Halloween blizzard of 1991 still holds the record for the most snowfall during a storm in the Twin Cities with 28.4 inches.

Two hours north in Duluth, the storm’s 40 mph winds blew the snow, creating white out conditions nonstop for 33 hours. The city racked up 36.9 inches of snow on the ground, keeping schools and some businesses closed for several days. By the time it was all said and done, 30 locations had broken daily snowfall records.

Total snowfall from the Halloween Blizzard of 1991. 30 locations broke daily snowfall records. Blizzard conditions lasted for 72 hours.
Total snowfall from the Halloween Blizzard of 1991. 30 locations broke daily snowfall records. Blizzard conditions lasted for 72 hours. (National Weather Service)

The evolution of The Perfect Storm

Meanwhile along the eastern seaboard, there was another unique weather pattern evolving.

A cold front was moving south from Canada when it sucked up the remnants of Hurricane Grace. This along with strong high pressure resulted in a monster storm.

The warm air acted as a fuel boost to the system deemed “The Perfect Storm” as pressure dropped and tropical-storm force winds roared along eastern seaboard.

The Atlantic waters churned, producing waves up to 30 feet high that battered the coast from the Canadian Maritimes to the Outer Banks.

By Nov. 1, 1991, Hurricane Hunter Aircraft determined the stormed had turned into another hurricane, but remained unnamed to keep from alarming those just pummeled by “The Perfect Storm” who were under no direct threat.

Satellite imagery of "The Perfect Storm" October 1991.
Satellite imagery of "The Perfect Storm" October 1991. (NASA)

The storm continued to makes headlines in 1997 when the book, “The Perfect Storm” was published.

Author Sebastian Junger highlighted the meteorological phenomena as the force that sunk the Andrea Gail and took the lives of six fisherman on board. The boat was never found.

Three years later, “The Perfect Storm” hit box offices and big screens selling $42 million its opening weekend and totaling over $3 million sales worldwide.


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