Halloween Blizzard of 1991

October 31st, 2009 |

GOES-7 Visible (0.65 um) images, 31 October and 01 November 1991 [click to play animation]

GOES-7 Visible (0.65 um) images, 31 October and 01 November 1991 [click to play animation]

The Halloween Blizzard of 1991 was an early-season storm that moved north from the Gulf of Mexico to the upper Great Lakes. Unseasonably cold air allowed the rich moisture-laden airmass to deposit a long band of snow from the Panhandle of Texas northeastward to western Lake Superior. Many early-season snow total records were broken, and single-storm records fell at Minneapolis (28.4″) and Duluth (36.9″) Typically storms from the Gulf of Mexico do not move due north; however, eastward motion of this system was blocked by a large nor’easter off the coast of New England (the so-called “Perfect Storm”).

In the visible loop above, notice the rapid melting of snow deposited by the system in the Texas Panhandle, despite record cold (30 and 31 October 1991 are the only October days in Amarillo history when the surface temperature stayed below 30 F all day). Snowcover in South Dakota (the Missouri River stands out) also speaks to the chill in the airmass on the cold side of the storm. A larger-scale visible animation is available here.


The 1991 “Halloween” storm is the “single storm record for the metropolitan (Twin Cities)” area. A comparison of a GOES-7 Infrared and visible image on November 1, 1991 at 21 UTC.

A multi-day GOES-7 infrared (window) animation starting on October 31, 1991.
A GOES-7 visible band animation over parts of 2 days starting on October 31, 1991 .


These NOAA GOES-7 data was accessed via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Data Services, using the McIDAS-X software.