On October 31 of 1991, Burnett County experienced one of their largest snowstorms to date with between 22-28 inches of snowfall. It became known as the Great Halloween Snowstorm, which is still brought up in conversation every Halloween.
It’s currently early November in Burnett County, and what we are seeing now outside our windows is a light dusting of snow. The residents of 1991 were having a completely different experience. When they woke up the morning of Halloween, weather forecasters were announcing a winter storm watch. The snow began to fall that morning and was showing no signs of slowing come the afternoon. Any trick or treaters that were brave enough to fight the storm had to tramp through several inches of snow to receive their candy.
The snow continued through Thursday night and by Friday morning, the wind had picked up and the snow continued to fall. Forecasters were now calling the storm a blizzard. Schools had been cancelled and little to no businesses in Burnett County opened their doors. County and local road crews were needing to assist emergency vehicles when they were called out for a medical emergency. With residents’ driveways and local roads being snowed over, the road crews had to plow in front of the emergency vehicles to get them where they needed to go.
The road conditions were so bad on Friday that the Minnesota State Highway Department shut down Highway 70 from the St. Croix River to Pine City. This caused trouble for Minnesota travelers as they were now stuck in Grantsburg. With the Grantsburg Inn being full, travelers were contacting John Moritz, the Chief of Police, because they had nowhere to go. Moritz contacted Bill Stapp from the Grantsburg High School and Stapp opened the gymnasium up to any travelers who couldn’t get back home. Some local residents in Grantsburg even opened up their homes to some of these travelers.
By Saturday morning, the snow turned to flurries, but was still coming down. An article in the Sentinel from 1991 stated, “By Saturday morning the snowfall had lessoned, but the ground was thoroughly covered with what turned out to be half of a normal winter’s snowfall.”
It wasn’t until Sunday when the skies finally cleared, and the snow ceased to fall. Neighbors became very neighborly during this big storm, helping each other plow out their driveways, getting each other groceries and carpooling to work. Even with the friendly help from neighbors and the local and county road crews plowing snow, some residents were snowed in their homes until Monday and Tuesday. It took the road crews from Burnett County several days to clear all of the snow from the villages so that businesses could open back up.
The snowfall was measured after the storm and throughout Burnett County, between 22-28 inches of snow had fallen and blanketed the towns. There are many people now who are complaining that our dusting of snow has come too early- at least we did not have a blizzard like the Great Halloween Snowstorm.
Do you remember this snowstorm and have a crazy story to share about it? Email Kayla Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your snowstorm story.