Top 20 + Snowfalls in the Twin Cities: 1884-2023

Below, we have listed the 24 largest snowfall events on record in the Twin Cities, using data back to 1884. To qualify, any snowfall total must have been caused by the same weather system--for instance a surface cyclone (or "low-pressure system"). If the snow stops, but the same feature is influencing the weather, and the snow starts up again, that's all one event. If the snow falls on one day because of one system, then takes a short break and falls again the next day because of a different system, that would be two events.

Duration

About a quarter of these snowstorms occurred either during one observation day or within a 24-hour period that overlapped two observation days. The remainder extended for over 24 hours, and 10 of the entries covered three or more calendar days. During multi-day snowstorms, it is common to find multiple waves or "phases" of accumulating snow, as surges of moisture and energy rotate around the parent weather system.

Significance

Some of the storms below, like the Armistice Day Storm and the 1991 Halloween Blizzard, were produced by massive and intense areas of low pressure, were accompanied by howling and even damaging winds, and have become legendary. Others, like the March 8-9, 1999 surprise, had a softer touch and may have been forgotten. But many of these storms live in some sort of infamy, like the blizzard of December 10-11, 2010, which will be remembered by many as the final "domebuster" snowstorm, resulting in significant damage to the roof of the former Metrodome. We will update this list as new snowstorms replace older ones. The two most recent storms to make this list are the April 13-16, 2018 "Thunder Blizzard" and the January 2-5, 2023 "Big Mess."

Monthly Climatology

based on these ranked snowfalls, the heavy snowstorm "season" could be seen to have an early peak and a late peak, favoring the transition months of November and March, which together account for 13 of the 24 ranked events. February only has one ranked snowfall, and traditionally was considered a tame winter month. That may, however, be changing.

Number of ranked storms wholly or partially occurring during a given month

  • October: 1
  • November: 6
  • December: 5
  • January: 4
  • February: 1
  • March: 7
  • April: 3

Top 24 Snowfalls in the Twin Cities: 1884-2023

Top Twenty Snowfalls for Twin Cities
1.  28.4 inches: 1991 October 31 - November 3 (Halloween Blizzard)
2.  21.1 inches: 1985 November 29 - December 1 (Thanksgiving Weekend)
3.  20.0 inches: 1982 January 22 - 23
4.  17.4 inches: 1982 January 20 - 21
5.  17.1 inches: 2010 December 10 - 11 (Final "Domebuster")
6.  16.8 inches: 1940 November 11 - 13  (Armistice Day)
7.  16.7 inches: 1985 March 3 - 4
7.  16.7 inches: 1940 March 11 - 14 (tie)
9.  16.5 inches: 1982 December 27 - 28
10. 16.0 inches: 1917 January 20 - 21
10. 16.0 inches: 1999 March 8 - 9 (tie)
12. 15.8 inches: 2018 April 13-16 (Thunder Blizzard)
13. 15.3 inches: 1886 November 16-18
14. 15.1 inches: 2023 January 2-5 (Big Mess)
15. 14.7 inches: 1985 March 31
16. 14.3 inches: 1991 November 29 - 30 (Black Friday)
17. 14.1 inches: 1952 March 22 -23
17. 14.1 inches: 1983 November 27 - December 1 (tie)
19. 14.0 inches: 1899 March 10-12
20. 13.8 inches: 2011 February 20-21
21. 13.6 inches: 1966 March 22-23
21. 13.6 inches: 1983 April 14 (tie)
23. 13.1 inches: 1983 December 13-15
24. 13.0 inches: 1907 April 27-28
Last modified: January 6, 2023
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