History of Minnesota Blizzards

When a MN Snowstorm develops, with wind speed increasing to 35 MPH, and factors such as blowing, or falling snow is thrown into the equation, you now have the definition of a blizzard. We all remember the 1991 Halloween Blizzard that dumped 37 inches of snow in the eastern, and southern parts of the state that lasted nearly 3 days, and caused major damage. The most amazing fact is it happened the end of October, just as unique as the April 2018 Blizzard lasting days. That was definitely a Minnesota record snowfall that year, or it certainly felt like it.

We're now going into 2020, and we'll see if a MN blizzard decides to make it's presence known. Odds are in favor, and thankfully now days we have a little notice, instead of the unexpected that so many faced years ago. We'll be going into March here pretty quick, but don't let your guard down, just quite yet, and don't put away the snow shovels.

Long term forecasts in regards to some weather models, predict a harsher second half of winter, and that's about here on our doorsteps. The DNR has a concern for heavy snowfall as of now after January, which thus would hamper safe ice conditions for vehicles, and RV's to a further degree. MN weather sure can be unpredictable year, to year.

We will be adding the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Minnesota Blizzards shortly. The MN weather has certainly come back with a vengeance. Many record snowfalls have taken place, and extreme temperatures. The history of MN weather has continually made the charts setting new records as the years pass. So check back later on this week to see the newly added records, that this state has produced in the last couple of years. The last MN snowstorm pretty much effected the southern part of the state only, with strong winds.

Great Lakes MN Winter Storm of 1835


On Nov 10 in 1835, severe storms caused 19 shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, and an estimated
254 sailors died while the snow, and rain caused the ships to weight down. This is considered one of the greatest tragedies of the Great Lakes Region. We all remember the Edmund Fitzgerald which occurred later on in history, so a person can just imagine what the old days the ships went through when that bad weather showed up on their doorstep.


MN Winter Storm of 1866


On Feb 13th lasting till the 15th in 1866, one of the worst blizzards in Minnesota was about to take place in the weather book. It,struck the sate, and lasted 3 days with drifts recorded over 20 ft,. It buried the small homes, and barns in the western part of the state.


MN Winter Storm of 1870


A two day blizzard struck Mar 14-16 in 1870. The blizzard struck in northern Iowa, and South West Minnesota with up to 16 inches of snowfall reported. Deaths were reported afterwards due to the extreme weight of the snow, and is still remembered in many of the smaller museums in the south west part of the state.


The MN Storm From Hell In 1873


A three day blizzard struck January 7th-10th in 1873, and prior in the day was nice weather, and people took advantage of it. Soon afterwards the blizzard struck, with an extreme temperature drop. Over 70 deaths occurred, and several afterwards from heart attacks removing the high drifted snow. Trains were halted, and cattle deaths are estimated in the 100's. The Minnesota snow storms in the past, are the one's people had to tackle head on, without the use of the gadgets now days, we have for removing snow.


The Early Blizzard of 1880


On October 16th 1880, the earliest blizzard in Minnesota struck the south western, and west central part of the state. Snow drifts were reported in excess of 20 feet, that didn't melt till the spring. The Mn snowstorms that occur early in the year, are sometimes a precursor on what's to come.


Minnesota Blizzard of 1888


On Jan 12th, lasting till the 13th in 1888, the day started as a beautiful mild day for January. It occurred during the school, and work week. The storm struck with a dense blinding snow, and the temperature fell to -37 degrees F. Many of the children sent home early from school never made it home, and the deaths reported form this storm totaled 200, and more afterwards from heart attacks. They lived in an age where there were no Blizzard Warnings issued, but near transportation hubs, telegraph in rare occasions could give some warning what was on the way. For rural areas, they struck without notice.


Duluth Blizzard of 1892


Starting on March 7th-8th in 1892, Duluth experienced one of its worst blizzards on record. The  70 mph winds created drifts up to 20 feet high, almost burying many of the houses near the Superior Lake shore. No reported deaths, but the city was on standstill for almost a week afterwards. Duluth had a blizzard early this year of 2020, that gave a walloping of snow.


The Park Rapids Blizzard of 1893


On January 31st in 1893, a blizzard made its way into Park Rapids, and in the process the temperature dropped a little over 40 degrees in a 5 hour period. No reported deaths. It was a bad MN snowstorm none the less.


The Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1896


On November 26th in 1896, a severe Thanksgiving Day storm still remembered to this day. This storm system produced rain, and thunderstorms in the southern part of the state, and a blizzard for the central, and northern part of the state. Many were caught in this due to traveling, and many deaths were reported. In some parts of the state temperatures dropped to -45 F, with deadly wind chills.


The Lake Superior Blizzard of 1905


On November 27th 1905,a blizzard struck the central part of the state, including Duluth with 60 mph winds. Several ships were reported sunk. A person could write a book on just the Duluth snowstorms, as many have the lake it rests upon.


The Great Lakes Blizzard of 1913

On November 9th, though the 11th in 1913, one of the worst November storms ever on the Great
Lakes took place. Blizzard in northern MN.Three ships sunk on Lake Superior alone, and the death toll from this storm is presently unknown. It's expected to be in the many of dozens of life lost. This the biggest snowstorm in Minnesota history.


October Blizzard of 1916


On October 19th in 1916, one of the earliest blizzards recorded in Minnesota history, dropped up to 15 inches of snow in the western counties. The temperature dropped 50 degrees in 6 hours. No reported deaths.


The Dust Blizzard of 1921


On January 16th in 1921, a blizzard in the northern part of the state created winds 59 mph, with winds in the southern part of the state blowing soil in all the southern counties. This is one blizzard, I certainly wouldn't want to be outdoors in.


The Black Dust Blizzard of 1923


It started on February 12th, 1923, and lasted for 3 days ending on the 14th. The blizzard got its name from blowing in soil & dirty snow from North Dakota.

Armistice Day Blizzard

This is one many of the old timers use to talk about. The deadly storm that struck on November 11th, 1940. The very well known Armistice Day Blizzard. An unsuspecting mild day, with hunting season at its peak. 17 inches of snow fell in the Minneapolis/St Paul area alone, with a reported 27 inches of snow reported at Collegeville. 49 deaths were reported on land .This storm system also took the lives of 59 sailors on the Great Lakes. The 1940's Armistice Blizzard Is one of the most famous Minnesota snow storms of all time.

The MN Blizzard of 1941

This storm struck on March 14th 1941. It hit the western counties in Minnesota, with 85 mph winds
at Grand Forks. Duluth itself had 75 mph winds. 32 deaths were reported, with some afterwards. The blizzard wind speed, plays such a huge impact on these MN winter storms.

Central/Northern Minnesota Blizzard of 1950

On December 5th - 8th, in 1950,  2 feet of snow was dropped on the state. No cases of death reported, but a storm that definitely made the history books for many. 1949-1950, was also a question asked by many. What is the most snow every recorded in Minnesota. The answer to that is 170.5 inches. It would be very interesting to dig into the records, to see how many blizzard conditions, the state had those years.

Lake Superior Blizzard of 1960

November 28th, 1960, a whopper of a snow storm pounded Lake Superior, producing 20 to 40 ft waves, causing extensive damage to shoreline homes, and business. The town Grand Marais suffered three feet of water in the streets. Winds gusted to 73 mph. The damage was from the direct winds on the lake, that caused the most damage, with only a foot of snow being reported with the system.

Minnesota Blizzard Of 1965

Many still remember the St Patrick's Day Snowstorm in 1965. Especially in the western part of the state around, and in Willmar MN. It dumped up  to 24 inches of snow with fierce winds, on already topped up snow banks from a very snowy winter. Although it occurred March 17th, which played a big factor in the timing, and the date itself being St Patrick's Day makes this one memorable. Few MN snow storms have matched since.

International Falls Storm of 1966

On March 1st-4th on 1966, a strong snow system left 37 inches of snow near
International Falls. This was a borderline storm system that may not of been a blizzard, but the snow fall definitely made this storm one remembered. It was a record snowfall for Minnesota that day.


The Winter of 1968-1969

In the months of December, and January of 1968-1969, one of the stormiest winters on record, with with six blizzards on record that winter, left 30 to 50 inches alone from those two months. Another record snowfall for the books.

The Blizzard of 1972

On January 24th 1972, a severe blizzard in the south-west of the state, with record winds of 72 miles, centers in on Worthington County, with only 10 inches of snow being reported, it still goes down as one of the worst in the area in memory. The county was virtually shut down for 3 days afterwards, and many were stranded who took shelter where ever they could. No reported deaths.


New Years Blizzard of 1972


On December 31st 1972, a New Year's Eve blizzard put an end to many parties, and celebrations that night. That was pretty much the reported damage from this storm, and many held a grudge about the timing than anything else. A New Years Day Blizzard worth remembering, but resolutions forgotten.


The Blizzard of 1975..Another one for the record books.

On January 10th, and lasting through the 12th in 1975, a storm system considered one of the worse in memory closed many roads in the central, and northern parts of the state for nearly 2 weeks. 20 foot drifts, with a reported loss of over 15,000 cows & livestock. Many deaths were reported with this storm. During the blizzard itself over 14 people died, and dozens more from heart attack afterwards. Storms in Minnesota, in winter, can be deadly.

Duluth MN Blizzard 1975


On March 23rd, through the 24th, and then again starting March 26th, lasting through the 29th in 1975, a storm system with winds recorded at 100 mph on Lake Superior created 20 ft waves on the lake, and caused extensive damaged to properties. Snow fall was only 12 inches, but the strength of a blizzard with it's wind factor, makes this one memorable. When living in Duluth, you'r guaranteed to get a MN Winter Storm every winter. It's like clock work.

Blizzard of 1975..The Sinking of The Edmund Fitzgerald

On November 10-11 in the year 1975,a dangerous winter storm system with 71 mph winds created 12 to 15 foot waves on Lake Superior.With the combination of the freezing rain,and driving winds the Edmund Fitzgerald became victim and sunk,not to be found till decades later its location.

The 1984 Blizzard in Southern Minnesota

On February 4th 1984, a blizzard in southern MN with dangerous winds in excess of 80 mph, created blinding conditions, with 0% visibility. People dies in this storm,and many of them were those outdoors. Many were stranded, and took shelter where ever possible to avoid the dangerous wind chills.

The Blizzard of 1985


On March 3rd 1985, a blizzard struck the northern counties with 6 to 24 inches of snowfall. The city of Duluth reported winds gusting to 90 mph, with drifts up to 25 feet included. Businesses, and schools were closed for 2-3 days in some areas from the effects. The Duluth Blizzard of 1985 will stay in the memories for some time for those who lived near Lake Superior.


November Blizzards of 1988


On November 16th 1988, a very strong storm systems drops 11 inches
of snow in the northern counties, especially in International Falls where the brunt of this storm is really felt. Then again another dangerous system arrives on the 26th, this times covering most of the state with winds reaching 63 mph at Windom, and other areas of south-west part of the state. Snow amounts ranged from 7-15 inches. The Mn winter storms that cross southern Minnesota, can be the most devastating. The average snowfall down that way, is a walk in the park in the northern parts of the state, and can be quite frightening in the southern part of the state, with a little wind speed thrown in. It's all flat down that way, or close to it, in many of the counties.


The Red River Valley Blizzard of 1989

On January 6th, through the 8th in 1989, the worst blizzard in Minnesota history strikes in the Red River Valley, dropping 26 inches of snow. The major damage was the thaw of the snowfall in the spring, resulting in millions in property damage.

The Minnesota Halloween Blizzard 1991


Some still ask, what year was the Halloween Blizzard in Minnesota? It was 1991, and thus got its name the Halloween Blizzard. Over 28 inches at MSP, and nearly 37 inches reported Duluth. This was one of the largest and longest lasting blizzards in state history. This storm system really took a toll on the wildlife through out the state of Minnesota, and caused major damage. Oct 31st 1991 is a date many will remember as the worse blizzard in history.

Minnesota Blizzard 2018

Some call this the "Thunder Blizzard' because pretty much all element of Minnesota weather was thrown into this winter storm. From lightening, to high winds, thunder, freezing rain, and snow.  This winter storm came in 3 waves from April 13th-16th hours apart. Marshall Mn, and the south-west had the brunt of this system. Snowfall records show 12-21 inches of snow in a vast area of this blizzard's track. When it comes to blizzards with lightening, this is the one many remember.

Blizzard Hockey MN - Team Lands In Jai

This is towards the end of February, 2019, and gives a new definition to "Blizzard Hockey" The St. Cloud State University men's hockey team, was returning from Omaha, Nebraska. They happen to run into a blizzard on their way home, and the bus hit a drift, just a tad to big for it to plow through, and became stuck. The team made an attempt to dig out with their hockey sticks, but to no avail. When Sheriff deputies arrived, they were taken to the Watonwan County Jail, where they awaited sentencing, until better road condition prevailed, so they could complete their journey back up to St. Cloud, MN..Did I say landed in jail? I meant stranded in jail..:) I know there are MN Blizzard Hockey Teams out there, and certainly pray they don't travel in blizzard conditions. It's understandable circumstances like this happen, when sport teams have to travel several hours to, and from a sporting event. A lot can happen weather wise in that time. Always try to have a plan, and communications when pressured to travel in bad weather.

Blizzard Questions

What is the most snow ever recorded in Minnesota?, I'll explain that in three ways. The most snowfall to occur in a single day (24 hours), the biggest snowfall regarding a particular storm, and the biggest snow accumulation in a season. I'll go on to other record amounts after.

Record Snowfall In A 24 Hour Period : We had 36 inches of snow, on January 7th, 1994 in a 24 hour period. That was in Lake County, and being close to Superior perhaps help set that snowfall record, and being in a storm system itself. This is a 24 hour record snowfall amount.

Record Storm Snowfall : The biggest winter storm produced 46 1/2 inches on Jan. 6-8th 1994. The most snow in one storm. This was in Lake County, and this pertains with the snowfall record above.

What Year Had The Most Snow :  That would be the winter of 1949-1950, with a whopping 170 1/2 inches of snow for that season. This was in the north eastern part of Minnesota, and lake effect from Lake Superior helped make this record possible.

Most Fatalities, Death From Winter Storm : That would be the winter storm of January 12-13, 1888. Reports are estimated to be in the 200 range. There most likely was a lot more that went unreported.

I'll be adding personal stories to those who were involved with these storms, and shed light on what it was like experiencing the past without credible weather reports. We'll also be adding Blizzard Warning For Minnesota Alerts, to the page. We'll also be adding a MN Snowstorm section, where there has been unbelievable amounts of snow dropped, or other unique circumstance worth documenting.