Discover the Biggest April Snowstorm to Ever Hit Minnesota

City street covered in snow in Manhattan New York during Noreaster snowstorm
© nyker/Shutterstock.com

Written by Christina Eck

Published: April 23, 2023

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Everyone can relate to looking forward to the spring months after the harsh winter. But did you know Minnesota doesn’t always experience bright sunshine during April? If not, then you may want to discover the biggest April snowstorm to ever hit Minnesota.

It shocked residents, and those in surrounding areas found that they weren’t prepared. However, that record might be surpassed in April 2023 due to passing spring snowstorms throughout the winter months. Just recently, residents have almost experienced record-breaking snowfall.

If you’re planning to move to Minnesota or if you’re just curious, don’t worry. This year has been crazy when it comes to snowfall in the state. Let’s take a closer look at the state’s previous April record holder, the biggest snowstorm in the state, and the current conditions that could break the record.

When Was the Biggest April Snowstorm in Minnesota?

A snow blower does its work at Boston Logan International Airport.

Minnesota is one of the coldest states in the country.

©MassDOT / Public domain – Original / License

The day started out like any other day in Cook County on April 4, 1933. The temperatures were around the mid-40s, which wasn’t anything different for the day. However, the temperature started to drop later in the day.

Instead of the mid-40s, Cook County saw temperatures drop due to heavy rainfall. The rain continued throughout the night until the early morning of April 5, when the cool temperature had turned it to snow.

From there, the snowfall started to pick up, and by mid-day, there was a full-blown snowstorm. Wind gusts had picked up to 50 miles per hour, making it impossible to leave the house. Residents couldn’t travel, as the roads were blocked, and there was no way anyone could do anything. This led to a city-wide shutdown until the storm passed.

Over the next few days, residents of Cook County saw 28 inches of snow. Minnesota has an average snowfall of 36 to 70 inches annually. However, in one day, there was a total of 28 inches or around 2 feet of snow.

The Impact of the Snowstorm on Cook County

The snowstorm had been the biggest ever recorded in the state, which left residents unsure of what to do. The economy had already been failing due to the Great Depression. With many people relying on work, it became an even more difficult situation. Many residents weren’t able to attend work or leave their homes.

Aside from that, anyone stuck at one location wouldn’t be able to travel. Cook County had seen snowfall, but they weren’t prepared to see a total of 28 inches quickly. There weren’t any heavy industrial snow plows yet, meaning residents had to rely on warm weather and shoveling to move around.

Another downside residents faced was that the high wind speeds knocked out the power. Residents were left without phone lines, heat, or electricity. This led to all residents feeling isolated and distraught.

However, once the storm let up, there was a strong sense of community. Cook County residents helped one another by shoveling driveways, clearing the roads, and helping anyone in need.

Why This Was Record-Breaking Snowfall

The snowfall from the storm was record-breaking only because it happened in less than 24 hours. Minnesota had experienced only a few single-day snowstorms that had resulted in such high snowfall.

Most of the previous storms had happened over the course of a few days, which led to the measurements being so high. However, the Cook County storm had single-handedly in a day surpassed some of the other storms that lasted a few days.

The Biggest Snowstorm in Minnesota: The Halloween Blizzard of 1991

On October 31, 1991, Minnesota experienced a Halloween blizzard that racked up 28.4 inches of snow at the MSP Airport and approximately 28.4 inches in Duluth. This snowstorm lasted until November 3, which led residents to be trapped inside their homes.

Luckily, Minnesota residents had already experienced some heavy snowfall and storms. The city was fully prepared to deal with the blizzard and had the equipment to clear driveways and homes. 

Despite the equipment, residents and wildlife remained snowed in for the duration of the storm. Currently, the October 31 Halloween blizzard is known for being the longest-lasting blizzard in the state.

Although, recent weather patterns have led experts to believe that the record might be surpassed. Due to the continued snowfall during the 2022 to 2023 winter, Minnesota might have a new title holder for the biggest April snowstorm. So, let’s cover what’s happened.

2023 Snowfall Could End Up Being the Biggest April Snowstorm Ever

As of 2023, Duluth, Minnesota, has been experiencing one of the snowiest winters on record. The city has seen a total of 138.3 inches of snow during the winter season and has previously beaten the winter of 1995 to 1996, which totaled 135.4 inches. Due to this, people wonder if this will be the storm that outdoes other previous records.

Currently, Duluth has experienced 48.2 inches above the annual average. With no way of knowing if the storms will give up, some say that there will be even more snowfall to come. The Upper Midwest is getting more severe storms trickling down into the city of Duluth.

The Winter Weather Advisory has already issued a snowfall warning for the town. It’s expected to see another one to three inches of snow from the passing spring snowstorms, which could lead to a record breaker for the single-storm snowfalls twin cities record

The current rankings are as follows:

  1. Halloween Blizzard 1991 28.4-inches
  2. Thanksgiving 1985 21.1-inches
  3. January 22-23, 1982 200-inches
  4. January 20-21, 1982 17.4-inches
  5. Domebuster 2010 17.1-inches

With already 15 to 20 inches of accumulation in April, it could easily start to pass as one of the highest snowfalls. Two separate storms had already passed, totaling 37.4 inches of snowfall. This is already far higher than the Halloween Blizzard of 1991.

The Impact of the Already Passing 2023 Minnesota Snowstorm

Already on April 1, the blizzard that passed through the southern part of the state ended up knocking out the power. As of then, The National Weather Service had reported that 8.5 inches of snow hit Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. The continued snowfall caused horrendous travel conditions and affected the airport’s scheduling.

Aside from that, it was also reported that the University of Minnesota Campus in Minneapolis had to shut down. Students were unable to attend university due to terrible road conditions. 

While the city did its best to remove the snow, the storm continued over the course of the month. With spring snowstorms being reported, there is a high chance that the aftereffects of the storm will continue to make everyday life harder for residents. 

What is the Typical April Weather in Minnesota?

Sunset and cloud reflection on Lake Superior, Duluth, Minnesota

Sunset and cloud reflection on Lake Superior, Duluth, Minnesota

©iStock.com/LIKE HE

Despite a long history of snowstorms, Minnesota often sees temperatures ranging from 34 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit in April. Residents describe the weather as feeling slightly cold with a small breeze. 

However, there generally isn’t much snowfall or any “winter” like feeling to it. Rain and cloudy skies are often the most common weather during this time. So, it’s quite alarming when the temperature drops and snow starts to fall.

How Do Late-Season Snowstorms Impact Wildlife in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, the ground is often covered in snow during winter. Animals in the state are used to the cold chilly weather. However, when temperatures stay low during late-season snowstorms, it affects the surrounding wildlife.

Not all animal species are adapted to surviving in harsh climates, especially snowstorms. Mammals such as Black Bears, Elk, and even Black Wolves often thrive in winter. Although, once a snowstorm occurs, they face starvation and often don’t get to shelter in time.

Birds such as the Merlin Falcon, Board-winged hawks, and even Barn Owls are not prepared for the sudden drop in temperature. During the late-season snowstorm, birds won’t be able to hunt and often will freeze to death or be swooped away by the high gusts of wind. It will also cause altering migration patterns, and the bird species might not show up at the same time next year.

Wildlife during this time finds it difficult to find food, shelter, and water. Animals can’t predict the weather conditions, and when temperatures drop, they require more food to keep themselves from freezing. The only species that thrive in these conditions are those equipped to handle the cold or those still in hibernation, such as bears, beavers, and raccoons.

Conclusion

The April 5, 1933, snowstorm was a historical event during that month for the state. However, the Halloween Blizzard still held the record break of having the most snowfall for the season. Now, the year 2023 is close to beating both of those records.

With previous snowstorms, the city has not been prepared for the harsh climate that follows. Luckily, technological advancements and a long history of snow have helped the community prepare for inches of snow. 

If the state continues to see more snowfall across the next month or so, then it’s safe to say that this year will be considered to have the biggest April snowstorm to ever hit Minnesota. Currently, Minneapolis is experiencing the most snowfall, but other areas in central and south Minnesota may soon see storms.


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About the Author

Christina Eck is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on animals and travel. Christina has been writing about and researching animals for more than seven years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, which she earned in 2019. As a resident of Washington State, Christina enjoys hiking, playing with her dog, and writing fiction and non-fiction pieces.

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