Snow Season Summaries Previous Years

All specific snow amounts listed in the summaries are valid for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Duluth, MN unless otherwise specified.

Winter 2020-2021

The total snow accumulation for the season was 76.4 inches. The majority of the snow fell early in the season in October, November, and December with 12.0 inches, 19.2 inches, and 16.5 inches respectively. No major snow events occurred based on this authors standards. Snow must accumulate at least 10 inches. If a storm comes close to 10 inches, such as 9.8, but also includes thundersnow or winds gusting over 50 mph, I can bend the rules a bit.

The biggest snowfall event of the season was 8.7 inches which fell on November 14 to 15.

A quick hitting blizzard occurred on Dec 23 to 24 with winds gusting to 55 mph from the north. Most of the 5.2 inches of snow fell in three hours from 3 PM to 6 PM CST.

Another snow event with strong winds occurred on March 10 to 11, dumping 7.1 inches of snow in a short period of time. The snow accumulated around an inch per hour for six strait hours during the late afternoon and evening of the 10th as shown by the SNINCR remarks in the weather observations from the Duluth International Airport. Winds gusted frequently to around 50 mph with a peak gust of 55 mph from the east.

The most notable event of the season was not a snowstorm but a major cold outbreak lasting for nearly two weeks in the early to middle part of February. Daily low temperatures ranged from -16 to -35 oF from February 6 to February 17. Daily high temperatures ranged from the single digits below zero to the single digits above zero from February 5 to February 15.

Winter 2019-2020

The two most significant events for the season were the November 30 to December 1 blizzard and the thundersnow that produced around 2 inches of slushy accumulation in one hour late in the evening on March 28. The blizzard dumped 21.7 inches at the National Weather Service Forecast Office. Winds gusted over 50 mph. For more details on the storm, refer to the summary on the "Favorite Storms Duluth, MN" page of this website. The March 28 storm continued as lighter snow into the overnight and daylight morning hours of March 29 with a total of 6.2 inches. Much less accumulated below the top of the hill.

Most of the snow for the season fell in November and December with 27.7 inches recorded for each month. No surprise there given that the blizzard extended from one month into the other. The stormy pattern subsided a bit in January but frequent small snow events from a few tenths of an inch to between 3 and 4 inches still added up to 17.7 inches. The storminess really dropped off in February and the rest of the season was fairly tame. The only exception was the storm from March 28 to March 29. The total snowfall for the season was 92.2 inches.

The change in the character of the season matches well to a change in the Arctic Oscillation from the negative phase to the positive phase. The positive phase results in a jet stream that tends to stay farther north and keep the storm track and cold air also farther north. This does not mean however that cold air can't get down to Minnesota as evidenced by the coldest day of the season for Duluth occurring on February 13 with an official low and high temperatures of -21 oF and 0 oF respectively. For a discussion on the Arctic Oscillation and other climate patterns that influence the weather in Minnesota, go to the "Climate Patterns" page. The "References" section of the page contains numerous links to additional literature on these subjects.

Winter 2018-2019

The snow season ended with a BOOM as heavy snow, along with several rumbles of thunder, dumped 6 to 12 inches of soggy snow along and inland of the ridge crest in Duluth from late afternoon May 8 to early morning May 9. Temperatures stayed several degrees above freezing for the entire storm. The bottom two inches were basically silver color slush. Only 1 to 4 inches of snow accumulated near the bottom of the hill since the snow mixed with or changed to rain. Officially, 10.6 inches accumulated at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Duluth. Heavy snow accumulations also fell in the higher elevations south and east of Superior, WI.

More wet snow fell on May 19 when rain changed to snow in the early daylight morning hours and continued into the afternoon. In spite of the warmer ground temperatures, high sun angle, and temperatures at the Duluth International Airport that never fell below 35 degrees, the snow fell heavily enough to accumulate anyway. Snow even accumulated on the blacktop roads in the form of an inch or more of silver-colored slush. On the top of the hill in Duluth, 2 to 3 inches accumulated with some isolated amounts of 4 inches. Much less or nothing at all accumulated at or near the bottom of the hill where precipitation was either rain or a rain-snow mix. Precipitation in Superior, WI was also mainly rain but several inches of snow accumulated on the higher terrain to the south and east of the city.

Two other big snowstorms occurred earlier in the season. On December 26 to 28, 13.1 inches of dense wet snow fell. On February 5 to 7, 14.2 inches of snow fell. The second big storm was really several storms that combined with snow off of Lake Superior to produce a long duration continuous snow event.

The snow total for February of 36.4 inches broke the previous record of 33.9 inches set in 1939.

The snow total for May of 13.3 inches broke the previous record of 8.1 inches set in 1954.

The most snow for any one day in May was 8.3 inches which broke the previous record of 5.5 inches set in 1902.

Consequently, the 10.6 inches that fell in the storm from the 8 to the 9 would be the record for the greatest single storm snowfall for May.

The total snowfall for the season was 106.8 inches. Nice!

Note that snow totals around the region varied greatly since so much of the snow early and late in the season fell with temperatures above 32 degrees oF. Frequently snow fell on top of the hill in Duluth with rain or rain-snow mix at the bottom. Personal snow total near the ridge crest was 99.9 inches

For complete climate data information for the month of May 2019, for the entire snow season, and for other times of the year, visit the local climate information page of the National Weather Service in Duluth, MN.

Winter 2017-2018

April bails out Winter 2017-2018 with the biggest snowstorm of the season. A storm on April 14 to April 16 dumped 10 to 16 inches in the higher elevations of Duluth, MN, and also areas to the south and east of Superior, WI. Lower amounts, generally less than 10 inches, fell in the city of Superior itself and below the ridge crest in Duluth.

Interestingly the two biggest storms of the season occurred at the beginning and at the end. The other big storm dropped heavy snow from late evening October 26 to late evening October 27. Warm, wet ground initially retarded the accumulation but the snow intensity increased substantially shortly before sunrise and continued into the daylight morning hours. Snowfall rates reached 1 to 2 inches per hour. Snow accumulated 6 to 11 inches in the higher elevations of Duluth. Much less fell below the ridge crest.

The official winter season snow total at the National Weather Service in Duluth was 91.9 inches. Finally a respectable winter after three losers in a row!