It’s May, but Minnesota’s snow machine keeps on churning, and it dropped a record snowfall on northeastern Minnesota on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.
Just as lawns were starting to green up, they were buried under the largest one-day May snowfall in Duluth in 117 years. Heavy snow felled trees and power lines and left thousands in the dark. The weather made driving difficult, said National Weather Service hydrologist Steve Gohde.
“It’s a refrigerator out there right now,” Gohde said Thursday morning. “It’s very white out there.”
The storm dropped 10.6 inches of snow in Duluth, and in the process it etched its way into the weather record books in three places. Most of the snow — 8.3 inches — fell before midnight, “crushing” the previous record for the snowiest day ever in May by more than 3 inches, Gohde said. The previous record for the snowiest day in May in Duluth was 5.5 inches on May 10, 1902.
Wednesday’s snowfall also set a record for May 8, beating the previous mark of 5.0 inches in 1924.
With another 2.3 inches that fell after midnight, that set a record for May 9, beating the old mark of two-tenths of an inch in 1990.
The final numbers could go higher once official readings are collected and verified, Gohde said.
The late-arriving snow pushed the season total in Duluth to over 100 inches, the National Weather Service said in a tweet.
Gohde said Wednesday’s snowfall was hard to take after one of the most brutal winters in recent memory.
“I expect people to be calling and complaining,” Gohde said as he took snow reports from weather observers.
Other readings from northeastern Minnesota included 10 inches in Cloquet and Carlton, 9.7 inches northeast of Two Harbors and more than 9 inches in Hermantown, Wales and Twig north of Duluth in St. Louis County.
The heavy, wet snow accompanied by some rain brought down trees and power lines across the city and the Arrowhead region. On Thursday morning, Lake Country Power reported that a few thousand customers from McGregor to north of Duluth were without power. Minnesota Power said about 1,000 customers were in the dark. By afternoon, that number had dropped to a few hundred, the power company reported.
A slight warmup is on the way for the weekend, Gohde said. But it comes with a chance of rain Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures will moderate into the 50s both days, enough to melt the snow and force river and lake levels to rise.
For those participating in Saturday’s fishing opener, he said, “the water will be high and cold.”