The 2019 Thanksgiving Weekend Winter Storm

radar loop
200-frame radar loop from Duluth of the heavy snow between November 30th and December 1st.
Credit: College of DuPage

A major winter storm struck Minnesota on Thanksgiving weekend, 2019, with heavy waves of snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain, and strong winds. By Sunday December 1st  snowfall accumulations of 8-16 inches were common across the northern half of Minnesota, with pockets of higher totals around Cloquet, Duluth, and just off the north shore of Lake Superior. This was Minnesota's first major Thanksgiving weekend winter storm since 1994.

The storm began during Friday November 29th in southern Minnesota, as a strong low-pressure system emerged from the Rockies, producing sleet and freezing drizzle along Interstate 90 during the afternoon. On Friday evening and overnight, a band of snow and sleet lifted slowly northward over the southern half of Minnesota, producing accumulations of up to four inches by morning.

On Saturday November 30th, the precipitation focused over the northern half of Minnesota, where showers of sleet gradually turned into a widespread swath of moderate to heavy snow amid gusty winds. Beginning at 1 PM, the Duluth International Airport reported 11 straight hours of heavy snow, with winds gusting as high as 51 mph and visibilities as low as 1/16 of a mile at the 4 PM observation. Duluth reported 19 straight hours of visibilities limited to a half-mile or less.

The snow gradually tapered off Sunday morning in northern Minnesota, and Sunday afternoon in the south and east.

The official snowfall total at Duluth was 21.7 inches, making this the 7th largest two-day snowfall total on record. Snowfall accumulations in excess of 18 inches were reported from near Big Sandy Lake, to Holyoke in Carlton County, to Cloquet, up through Duluth, and into the highlands north of Two Harbors.  Accumulations of 12-18 inches were reported westward through Brainerd, Pine River, Sebeka, Park Rapids, and Alexandria.

In southern Minnesota, a surge of dry air worked farther northward than expected, shutting off the heavy precipitation over the Twin Cities, Willmar, and St. Cloud for much of Saturday, leading to a prolonged period of mist, drizzle, and sleet showers. Accumulations in these areas were held to 2-5 inches, with mats of packed slush making roads slippery in any case.

Below are snowfall reports from the National Weather Service office in Duluth. These reports may not be final, and may differ from totals reported elsewhere.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT  
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN  
1104 AM CST SUN DEC 1 2019  
   
..STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL REPORTS  
  
LOCATION                     AMOUNT    TIME/DATE                              
   
..MINNESOTA  
  
   
..AITKIN COUNTY  
  
5 S LIBBY                    13.4 IN   0100 AM 12/01                          
   
..CARLTON COUNTY  
  
3 NE HOLYOKE                 21.6 IN   0700 AM 12/01                          
2 NNE CLOQUET                19.5 IN   0915 AM 12/01                          
3 N MAHTOWA                  17.6 IN   0544 AM 12/01                          
MOOSE LAKE                   13.5 IN   0610 AM 12/01                          
CLOQUET                      13.0 IN   1043 PM 11/30                          
2 ENE HOLYOKE                9.2 IN    0700 PM 11/30                          
2 SW MOOSE LAKE              8.5 IN    0900 PM 11/30                          
3 N MAHTOWA                  8.2 IN    0745 PM 11/30                          
ESKO                         6.5 IN    0623 PM 11/30                          
   
..CASS COUNTY  
  
2 NNW MOTLEY                 11.0 IN   0220 AM 12/01                          
2 NNW MOTLEY                 10.5 IN   1220 AM 12/01                          
7 WSW PINE RIVER             9.0 IN    0750 AM 12/01                          
1 NW MOTLEY                  9.0 IN    0925 PM 11/30                          
1 NNE MOTLEY                 6.0 IN    0445 PM 11/30                          
   
..CROW WING COUNTY  
  
2 ENE BARROWS                12.5 IN   0748 AM 12/01                          
6 SE SAINT MATHIAS           11.5 IN   0830 AM 12/01                          
FORT RIPLEY                  8.0 IN    0655 PM 11/30                          
4 NE NISSWA                  6.5 IN    0843 AM 12/01                          
   
..ITASCA COUNTY  
  
BIGFORK                      10.5 IN   0830 AM 12/01                          
8 NNW COLERAINE              6.0 IN    0816 AM 12/01                          
   
..LAKE COUNTY  
  
1 W SILVER BAY               10.2 IN   0937 AM 12/01                          
2 SW TWO HARBORS             6.7 IN    1210 AM 12/01                          
   
..PINE COUNTY  
  
1 SW HINCKLEY                11.0 IN   1000 AM 12/01                          
1 SW HINCKLEY                10.0 IN   0440 AM 12/01                          
STURGEON LAKE                6.0 IN    0830 PM 11/30                          
   
..ST. LOUIS COUNTY  
  
3 NE HERMANTOWN              19.3 IN   0600 AM 12/01                          
6 ENE RICE LAKE              17.0 IN   0753 AM 12/01                          
3 NE HERMANTOWN              16.3 IN   0215 AM 12/01                          
3 NE HERMANTOWN              14.5 IN   1155 PM 11/30                          
3 NE HERMANTOWN              12.5 IN   1000 PM 11/30                          
BRIMSON                      11.1 IN   0832 AM 12/01                          
4 SE BRITT                   11.0 IN   0947 AM 12/01                          
1 WNW CHISHOLM               9.5 IN    0745 AM 12/01                          
6 ENE RICE LAKE              9.0 IN    0944 PM 11/30                          
1 NW CHISHOLM                8.8 IN    0740 AM 12/01                          
3 NE HERMANTOWN              8.5 IN    0800 PM 11/30                          
1 S ELY                      7.0 IN    0816 AM 12/01                          
2 W DULUTH                   7.0 IN    0700 PM 11/30                          
2 SSW SAGINAW                7.0 IN    0521 PM 11/30                          
1 NW CHISHOLM                6.3 IN    1030 PM 11/30                          
3 NE TWIG                    6.0 IN    0624 PM 11/30                          
2 SSW ELY                    4.0 IN    1000 PM 11/30                          
OBSERVATIONS ARE COLLECTED FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES WITH VARYING  
EQUIPMENT AND EXPOSURES. WE THANK ALL VOLUNTEER WEATHER OBSERVERS   
FOR THEIR DEDICATION. NOT ALL DATA LISTED ARE CONSIDERED OFFICIAL. 

Last modified: November 2, 2019