Strongly Terrain Enhanced Snowstorm

Duluth, MN

Dec 14 to 15, 2005





Southeast winds blowing nearly perpendicular into the high terrain of Duluth contributed to strong variations in snowfall from the immediate lake shore to along and beyond the ridge crest. Lake enhancement also boosted snowfall amounts.

Snow started shortly after 12:30 AM Wednesday the 14th, continued through the day and following night, then ended around 9:30 AM on Thursday the 15th. As the northern edge of the snow approached Duluth from the south, radar showed snow blow up along the higher terrain mainly east-northeast of Duluth. The Heaviest snow at my location fell during the overnight to early daylight morning hours of the 14th, then again from 1 AM to 5 AM the 15th. The second period of heavy snow produced consistent accumulation rates of 1 inch per hour. After 5 AM, the snow fell much lighter and intermittent. The snow was a bit wet, especially near the lake where temperatures were a little warmer.

Orographic lift due to the terrain produced most of the variation in snow totals through the evening of the 14th. Winds shifted more from the east after midnight, causing snow to diminish a bit over areas well inland. Snow increased along the ridge crest and in the lower elevations closer to the water due east winds converging at the head of the Lake Superior. Some bands of snow also developed off the lake.

Snow totals ranged from 6 to 8 inches in the lower elevations to 12 inches along the ridge crest then between 15 and 20 inches inland. Warmer in the lower elevations also accounted for some of the lesser snow totals. The snow near the lake shore was just laying on top of the grass more than sticking to it.

Some Specific Storm Totals:
National Weather Service 15.8 inches
My total 12.3 inches


Storm images compliments of the National Centers for Environmental Information

4 AM CST December 14th, 2005


9 AM CST December 14th, 2005


7 PM CST December 14th, 2005


2 AM CST December 15th, 2005


6 AM CST December 14th, 2005


6 PM CST December 14th, 2005