THE STORM'S WAKE

  • Updated: October 29, 2011 - 3:29 PM

THE STORM'S WAKE

Roofs collapsed on two downtown St. Paul buildings. Three inflated domes across the metro area collapsed, but not the Metrodome, where workers hosed off snow with hot water. (The Metrodome collapsed last December in a 17.1-inch snowfall, the greatest since the Halloween Blizzard.)

Hospitals reported numerous hand and finger injuries, including some amputations, because people were reaching into their snowblowers to clear clogs. The wet, heavy snow was in many cases mixed with leaves, causing the jams.

The storm coated much of southern Minnesota with several inches of ice before it reached the Twin Cities. Nearly 20,000 people lost power, some for as long as a week.

Wind gusts in outlying areas exceeded 60 miles per hour. From 9 p.m. Oct. 31 to 9 a.m. Nov. 1, snow fell on the Twin Cities at a rate of between 1 and 2 inches per hour. But the criteria that define a blizzard -- sustained or frequent winds to 35 miles per hour and visibility of a quarter mile or less -- may not actually have been reached in the Twin Cities.

Four people were injured by falling ice in the Twin Cities. Two were drivers whose windshields were smashed by ice falling from overpasses. A woman walking in downtown St. Paul was knocked out and had her skull fractured. A woman eating lunch at the International Design Center in Minneapolis was injured when ice fell 15 stories and through an atrium roof.

Hundreds of events were canceled or postponed, including state high school football playoff games. But there were plenty of seats available for the Timberwolves' Nov. 1 home opener, and 6,973 fans took advantage of them. (The blizzard began four days after a team associated with a summer game -- the Twins -- won baseball's World Series with a Game 7 victory over Atlanta and two days after Twin Citians celebrated that triumph with a parade in St. Paul and Minneapolis.)

Although the "Perfect Storm" off the East Coast of the U.S., subject of a book and a 2000 movie, peaked on Oct. 30, 1991, it was not directly related to the Halloween Blizzard. In fact, a high pressure system lingering over the central U.S. stood between the two massive storm systems.

Snow cover in the Twin Cities had officially vanished by Nov. 20. But another 6.2 inches fell Nov. 23, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

BILL MCAULIFFE

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