Relive the 'Halloween Blizzard' Minnesotans can't stop talking about

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1991 Halloween blizzard snowfall totals map

Snowfall map of the 1991 Halloween Blizzard. 

Don't be stunned if a 6-year-old walks up to your door in full costume on Thursday and starts an elevator conversation with you about the 1991 "Halloween Blizzard."

No matter the age, Minnesotans can't stop talking about the 1991 Halloween Blizzard. And now, for a limited time only – not true, it's on the internet so it'll live forever – you can relive the 1991 Halloween Blizzard (it needs a shorter nickname so we can stop incessantly describing the year, holiday and event) thanks to the National Weather Service in Duluth providing a digital flashback

Duluth got smashed with 36.9 inches of snow, which was the all-time state record for a single storm until it got smashed by a 1994 storm that nobody talks about because it didn't happen on Halloween. From Jan. 6-8, 1994, Finland, Minnesota was buried in a ridiculous 46.5 inches of snow. 

For the record, the '91 event started Oct. 31 – four days after the Twins won the World Series – and wasn't completely out of here until Nov. 3. Over those four days it dumped 28.4 inches on the Twin Cities. 

Those totals varied slightly across the metro, but the largest single storm amount recorded at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport since the '91 blizzard was the 17.1-inch beast that made the Metrodome roof collapse Dec. 10-11, 2010. 

We digress. Back to the yet-to-be given shorter nickname 1991 Halloween Blizzard. 

It actually snowed continuously in Duluth from 1 p.m. Oct. 31 to 1 p.m. Nov. 3, so a backbreaking stretch of 72 consecutive hours of snow. Fifteen of those hours was heavy snow, with about 2 inches an hour falling in Duluth from 11 a.m. Nov. 1 until 2 o'clock the next morning. 

The snow totals and date are surely historic all alone, but a huge reason the 1991 Halloween Blizzard is so memorable is due to the fact that it dumped way more snow than forecasters thought it would. Here's what happened, as told by the Minnesota State Climatology Office

"Most forecasts for October 31st for central Minnesota called for a cold rain by the afternoon. Possibly heavy. The primary question at the time was: 'How much rain would fall?'

"As Halloween dawned back in 1991, some wintery weather was anticipated but no one was expecting a blizzard. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch at 4:00 am on the 31st with a potential of a foot of snow. The first inkling that the forecast underprojected snowfall totals came when precipitation started falling as snow at about 11:30am in the Twin Cities, much earlier than anticipated."

The Twin Cities had 8.2 inches of snow fall on Halloween and another 18.5 inches the next day. Then came the winds on the back side of the storm, in addition to the earliest sub-zero temperature in Twin Cities history with a negative 3 degrees on Nov. 4. 

Since the epic storm, snow has fallen in the Twin Cities just twice on Halloween. It happened in 1995 and 1996, but very little accumulated those days and none has been recorded on Oct. 31 since. 

The forecast for Halloween 2019 calls for sunshine and cold with highs in the 30s, but trick-or-treaters won't be trudging through half a foot of snow to get their candy. 

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