Duluth could near snowfall record as winter weather returns

A mix of snow and rain continuing into Monday is expected to worsen flooding conditions.

Snowfall map.png

DULUTH — Don't be fooled by last week's rapid onset of spring; winter isn't done with us quite yet.

After a heat wave all but obliterated a record snowpack in a matter of days, flooding roads and overwhelming sewer systems across the Northland, fresh snow is expected to move back into the region.

Duluth is forecast to receive 2-3 inches by Sunday afternoon, with the system lingering into Monday. Other areas will be harder hit — much of Cook County is expected to get 4-6 inches and the South Shore of Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan may receive upwards of a foot.

The snow will be wet and heavy, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported, particularly impacting the Interstate 35 corridor Sunday morning. Accumulations will be minimal during daytime hours, but Sunday night will give way to wind gusts in excess of 40 mph and the majority of the accumulating snow to the east.

Officials urge caution on snow-covered, slippery rocks, icy trails along rushing water.

It could be just enough to put Duluth in record territory. This winter is already the third-snowiest of all-time, at 131.7 inches. That's only a tenth of an inch from the No. 2 spot and just 3.7 inches shy of the record 135.4 inches seen in 1995-96.


The average high for mid-April is about 45 degrees. But temperatures soared to near records in the upper 60s last week. Snow depth, reported at 27 inches on Easter Sunday, was down to just a trace by Saturday.

However, temperatures have plummeted and are expected to remain below average for much of the next week. The high Sunday will only be in the low 30s, leading to the increased snow risk, and Monday will top out around 40.

A restaurant with flooding nearby.
The River Inn Bar and Grill in Scanlon as seen Friday, April 14, 2023. Water from melting snow and the St. Louis River can been seen to the right.
Dan Williamson / File / Duluth News Tribune

Regardless of whether it rains or snows, an expected liquid equivalent of 1-2 inches across most of the region will exacerbate ongoing flooding issues.

Officials have been monitoring levels along many local rivers and creeks. The St. Louis River is several feet above flood stage, forcing the closure of the Sappi paper mill in Cloquet on Friday and nearing levels at which several businesses in Scanlon could be impacted.

Officials also were monitoring residences near the St. Louis River.

Jay Cooke State Park on Saturday shut down its popular swinging bridge, where crowds had gathered in recent days to view the raging river. Officials said the bridge, which was famously wiped out in the 2012 flood, was not believed to be at risk of damage as overall flow remained 2 feet from the decking. However, churning levels were occasionally bringing higher waves, along with dangerous tree trunks and ice chunks.

If Duluth's snow record doesn't fall by Monday, it could occur later in the week. Another wintry mix is expected to impact the region Wednesday through Friday.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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