Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) – For many of us old enough to have experienced it 30 years ago, our memories of the 1991 Halloween blizzard remain especially vivid.
Forecasters all agreed that Minnesota was in the sights of a major storm as a deepening low pressure system originating in Texas moved rapidly north-northeast. In the Rochester area, there was some hope that we could ‘dodge the bullet’ when hot air was pushed into the area before the storm and the precipitation remained liquid on Halloween night and the next day. . It was a false hope.
By the afternoon of November 1, the temperature had started to drop, turning rain into ice and later into snow. The atmospheric pressure at the center of the storm was so low that meteorologists described it as an “Earth hurricane,” producing winds that shattered countless power lines and utility poles covered in ice. The National Weather Service reported 2-3 inches of accumulated ice in Although this kept the snowfall below other parts of the state, the thick ice put the lives of dozens of people at risk. thousands of people who left without electricity or heat as the receding storm drew cold air for the season. In the region.
According to the National Weather, at least 20,000 homes and businesses in Southeast Minnesota were without power and it took about a week to restore electrical service to many customers in rural areas. At my home on the southeastern outskirts of Rochester, the power was cut until 3 a.m. on November 2, forcing us to use our wood-burning fireplace to stay warm as outside temperatures plummeted and winds howled 30 to 50 miles an hour.
Governor Arne Carlson has declared a state of emergency in Freeborn and Mower counties, where the National Guard has been activated to deliver generators to farms without electricity. Stranded motorists were housed in National Guard armories after blowing snow forced the closure of I-90 from Rochester to the South Dakota border.
News reports put the damage to the power grid and other infrastructure at nearly $ 12 million in the 11 counties in southeast and south-central Minnesota that received federal disaster declarations. A National Weather Service summary of the storm and its aftermath also reported massive power outages in northern Iowa, where damage exceeded $ 60 million.
The warmer air responsible for the ice storm reduced the total snowfall, but Rochester still set a November 1 record of 5.7 inches and up to 10 inches have been reported in counties of Winona and Houston. Meanwhile, areas in the north that experienced colder temperatures when the storm first hit found themselves with snow totals measured in feet and snowdrifts that buried even the largest vehicles. The National Weather Service says the Twins Cities were hit by a record 28.4 inches, while Duluth experienced the largest single-day snowfall in state history with just under 37 inches, and nearby Superior Wisconsin reported 45 inches of new snow.
The Halloween blizzard was also a killer. Storm-related traffic accidents and heart attacks associated with shoveling deep snow have been responsible for 20 deaths in Minnesota.
11 of the most devastating weather disasters in Minnesota over the years
We may be full of lakes and “nice”, but Minnesota has had its fair share of horrible, nasty weather. Over the years we have had floods, fires, storms that crushed stadium roofs and tornadoes that destroyed lives.