It’s been 25 years since Halloween storm

Published 10:24 am Monday, October 31, 2016

This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most talked-about events in Minnesota history: The epic Halloween blizzard that brought much of the state to its knees.

It’s still used as the benchmark for all blizzards past and present in Minnesota, and practically everyone old enough to remember it can recall with eerie detail where they were and what they were doing as it unfolded. (I was 9 years old, darting through snow banks in Minneapolis alongside someone dressed as a big yellow chicken. It was glorious.)

The thing is, the ‘91 blizzard was a bit of a surprise.

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Todd Krasue was working as a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen at the time. Leading up to Halloween, Krasue said they were anticipating heavy rain, not snow — and certainly not that much snow.

“The day before, we looked at everything and thought that there would be an inch and a half or 2 inches of rain. It looked like it was gonna be a cold rain, maybe 37 [or] 38 degrees,” he said.

Instead, snow began falling by mid-morning on Oct. 31.

By midnight, the storm had dropped 8.2 inches of snow at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. And that was just the beginning.

The storm intensified and snow continued to pile up. By the time it was all done three days later, it had dumped more than 2 feet of snow in the Twin Cities and 3 feet in Duluth.

Southern Minnesota wasn’t spared. While it didn’t get quite as much snow as other parts of the state, it was hammered by an ice storm that downed trees and power lines.

(Un)fortunately, there’s no blizzard in sight for Halloween this year. It’s looking like we’ll have a few showers during the day, but forecasters say it’ll mainly dry and mild for trick-or-treating.

Three other scary Halloween storms

Minnesota’s ‘91 blizzard wasn’t the only time Mother Nature wrought havoc on Halloween. Here are three other times the holiday was spoiled by frightful storms.

‘The Perfect Storm,’ 1991

The same year Minnesota was digging itself out, the East Coast was living through “The Perfect Storm.” It sank the fishing boat the Andrea Gail, whose story was the basis for both the book and movie also called “The Perfect Storm.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration described it as a storm “created from a collision between a high pressure system, a low pressure system and the remnants from a dying hurricane — (it) sent high winds and Atlantic Ocean waves crashing into the East Coast, from New England to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.”

Solar storms, 2003

Ghostly figures (OK, auroras) haunted the night skies during the solar storms of 2003.

They were so intense that they disrupted communication satellites and power grids, even causing a power outage in Sweden for about an hour.

‘Snowtober,’ 2011

Halloween celebrations were canceled or postponed in some communities when a deadly October snowstorm pummeled the Northeast.

Some areas in New England received more than 30 inches of snow and at least 3 million people lost power.

MPR News newscaster Mike Moen contributed to this report.