DULUTH — Residents who have in some cases run out of places to dump their shovel-loads are divided on whether they want to claim the title for most snowfall in a single year or if they want this long, winter nightmare to finally end.
Meanwhile, Duluth is on the cusp of an unpredictable two-part snowstorm that could extend into the weekend.
As of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported 125.8 inches of snow since July 1, 2022. This is 9.6 inches from tying the record of 135.4 inches set in 1995-96.
In the meantime, messy weather is brewing in the region, according to meteorologist Joe Moore: a wintry mix on Thursday night, followed by a bit of a break, then another round of winter weather on Friday night.
"Duluth is on the edge of the second round," Moore said. "We might see snow, we might not. Spring systems are hard to pin down.
This is currently the sixth-snowiest year on record — but Moore expects to see the city ascend the leaderboard, as he calls it, by as many as three spots this weekend.
This is good news for Lane Ellis, who moved to Duluth in 1994 and quickly learned about this region's potential for great depths of snow. He is an outdoor sport enthusiast who is always happy to extend his cross-country ski season. He skied 202 consecutive days — from Nov. 13, 2021 to June 2, 2022. He claims the world record for the longest known streak.
"I'll be delighted if Duluth breaks its all-time season snowfall record this year," Ellis said. "Despite the difficulties of sometimes having no place to shovel the mountain of snow, I'll embrace what would be a rare and beautiful gift from Mother Nature and celebrate with a cross-country ski to mark that special occasion."
Chuck Koltes, owner of the seasonal West Duluth Dairy Queen is pro-snow — in this case.
"I like to come out a winner," he said. "I guess I'd like to get the record."
Storms bring burgeoning comedians to the drive-thru window — customers who note that they are buying the shop's popular ice cream treat, a Blizzard, during a blizzard. He rewards them with a laugh every time, he said.
The idea of setting the snow record divided the ice cream shop on Thursday afternoon. Manager Molly Johnson has run out of places to put the snow when shoveling out her Chester Park neighborhood home. In exchange for upkeep on her elderly neighbor's path, Johnson has been given access to her yard.
"She said to throw it wherever it will fit," Johnson said.
According to the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis is in its eighth-snowiest year on record with 81 inches reported at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The record, 98.6 inches, was set in 1984. There is potential for some accumulation heading into the weekend.
Moore is confident that Duluth will hit the mark. There is a lot of winter to go, he said. While the average amount of snowfall for April is about 6 inches, there is a precedent for a major spring dump. Duluth saw 50.8 inches during April 2013 alone.
Snow totals are measured every 6 hours at the National Weather Service's Duluth office. Records for this area have been kept since 1885, but for many decades the numbers were collected closer to Lake Superior. Measurement have come from the Weather Service's office near Duluth International Airport since 1941.
What is especially rare is the 31 inches of snow still on the ground, Moore said.
"The real question is how high can we go?," he asked. "We'll see."