Our Region's Brutal History of Storms on and Near November 11th

satellite loop
Satellite image from November 11, 1998, as a massive and destructive cyclone passed through the region.
Courtesy: University of Wisconsin - Madison, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

Between Nov. 8-12 this year (2022), a strong low-pressure system produced rains that were unusually intense for November in Minnesota, shattering all-time monthly records for moisture content, and giving the southern half of the state a memorable temperature drop while the first blizzard of the season raged in northwestern areas.

Oddly, this storm has some bad historical company from other, often more violent storms that have affected the region at almost the exact same time of year.

  • Nov. 10-11, 1998: A ferocious system hooked northeastward through Minnesota from the Central Plains, bringing howling winds, record rainfall in Duluth, and blizzard conditions throughout western Minnesota. The six deaths in Wisconsin and two dozen injuries in the region were all from violent winds (not related to thunderstorms or tornadoes) that approached 100 mph at times.
  • Nov. 9-11, 1975: A powerful fall storm of wind, rain, and snow became legendary when its circulation moved across Lake Superior, with intense winds creating house-sized waves that likely wrecked the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald and killed its 29 crew members.
  • Nov. 11-12, 1940: A monster storm killed 154 Midwesterners, including 49 Minnesotans. It was the Armistice Day holiday (now called Veterans Day), and mild weather had encouraged many hunters and travelers to head out with only lightweight clothing. As the storm approached and intensified, however, temperatures fell 40 degrees in a matter of hours, as waves of intense, wind-driven rain, snow, and ice spread throughout the region, burying much of the state in enormous snow drifts.
  • Nov. 11-12, 1911: Although it did not affect Minnesota directly, the “11/11/11 storm” may be the most wicked weather event on record in the middle of the country. The major feature with this system was an incredible cold front that gave many areas a year’s worth of weather extremes in 24 hours. An outbreak of killer tornadoes from Wisconsin into the Ohio River valley was followed within two to three hours by extreme blizzard conditions across a huge area. Many Plains and Midwestern states set their highest and lowest temperature records for November during this storm.

So, while climatologists marvel at least week’s impressive weather system, we also marvel at the climatological history for this time of year and are thankful the storm wasn’t even worse!


November 18, 2022

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