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Holy plow! Nearly 30 inches in Finland, 27 in western Duluth as snowstorm winds down

Nearly 27,000 Northlanders were without electricity near noon Thursday as heavy snow downed tree limbs onto power lines.

Man uses snow blower to clear out snow.
A Proctor resident uses a snowblower to clear snow in front of his garage on First Avenue on Thursday morning.
Wyatt Buckner / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — An epic, three-day winter storm was winding down Thursday afternoon after leaving more than 2 feet of snow along the North Shore's highest hills, from western Duluth to Silver Bay and Finland.

The National Weather Service in Duluth allowed the blizzard warning for the North Shore to expire but is continuing a winter weather advisory for all of Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin until 6 p.m.

Only light accumulations are expected in most areas, but snow may linger into Saturday as the massive storm system continues to move slowly up north and east out of the region.

So far it's the eighth largest 48-hour snowstorm on record in Duluth and 14th largest total snowstorm.

After the snow ends, a blast of cold is expected going into the week before Christmas.

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“Frigid arctic air follows next week,’’ meteorologists said in their Thursday morning advisory.

But first we'll have to dig out from some historic snow banks.

People work to clear out snow in alley.
A shovel, a snowblower and an ATV plow are all being used to clear snow in a Proctor alley off First Avenue Thursday morning.
Wyatt Buckner / Duluth News Tribune

Thursday morning saw new snowfall totals of a foot or more in many areas, pushing three-day storm totals to 29 inches in Finland and 27 inches near Spirit Mountain in western Duluth. Far northern Wisconsin also got into the mix with nearly 2 feet in Delta, near Iron River. The official Duluth Weather Service total was 22.7 inches as of 1 p.m.

Most schools and some businesses across the region closed for a second day Thursday and snowplow drivers, who worked most of Wednesday to clear roads from the first round of snow, had a hard time keeping up with early morning’s snowfall rates of an inch or more per hour. Weather Service forecasters urged no unnecessary travel Thursday as plows continued to clear roads.

The Bentleyville Christmas lights display in Duluth will be closed again Thursday night. Some Duluth Transit Authority bus routes also had to be scrubbed Thursday due to impassable roads.

blizzard like winter weather snow
A snowmobile charges up St. Paul Avenue on Wednesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

This morning's snow was again very wet and heavy, likely leading to another round of power outages as tree limbs bow to the weight of the snow, falling in power lines, leaving many Northlanders without electricity and, in some cases, without heat.

As of 11 a.m Minnesota Power was reporting nearly 300 outages affecting nearly 15,000 customers, while Lake Country Power had another 440 outages affecting 12,000 customers.

Tree branches weighed down by snow.
Tree branches in front of a Proctor home are bending over due to heavy wet snow Thursday morning.
Wyatt Buckner / Duluth News Tribune

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Storm snowfall totals as of 11 a.m. Thursday

  • 29 inches - Finland
  • 28 inches - 4 miles northwest of Beaver Bay
  • 27 inches - Near Spirit Mountain in Duluth
  • 26.9 inches - 7 miles North of Two Harbors
  • 23.8 inches - Rice Lake (near Duluth)
  • 23.5 inches - Kenwood in Duluth, Delta in Wisconsin
  • 22.7 inches - Official National Weather Service
  • 21 inches - 2 miles north of Two Harbors
  • 20.5 inches - Twig
  • 20 inches - Duluth Weather Service, Proctor, Hawthorne (Wisconsin)
  • 18.5 inches - McKinley
  • 19 inches - Chisholm
  • 18.7 inches - Red Cliff, Wisconsin
  • 18.5 inches - Cloquet
  • 18 inches - Embarrass
  • 16.5 inches - Virginia
  • 16 inches - Lake Nebagamon
  • 15.6 inches - Moose Lake
  • 14.5 inches - Buyck
  • 13.7 inches - Holyoke
  • 11 inches - Village of Superior
  • 8.3 inches - Superior

Biggest 48-hour snowstorms in Duluth

At 22.7 inches so far (and a little more possible) this week’s storm is officially the eighth largest 48-hour snowfall total for the National Weather Service in Duluth. For total snowstorms over three days it ranks 14th.

  1. 32.6 inches - 1991 - ending Nov. 2*
  2. 29.8 inches - 1950 - ending Dec. 6
  3. 28.3 inches - 1991 - ending Nov. 1*
  4. 25.5 inches - 1950 - ending Dec. 7
  5. 26.1 inches - 2004 - ending Jan. 26
  6. 24.5 inches - 1994 - ending Jan. 7
  7. 23.4 inches - 2009 - ending Dec. 25
  8. 22.7 inches - 2022 - ending Dec. 15
  9. 22.2 inches - 1917 - ending March 14
  10. 21.7 inches - 2019 - ending Dec. 1

*Part of the Halloween megastorm that totaled 36.9 inches over four days, the largest in Duluth history. For 48-hour storms, Nov. 1 was counted in two entries.
This story was last updated at 2:39 p.m. Dec. 15 with additional snow totals and photos. It was originally posted at 7:47 a.m. Dec. 15.

Man clears out snow with snow blower in alley.
A Proctor resident clears out snow with his snow blower in an alley off 1st Avenue Thursday.
Wyatt Buckner / Duluth News Tribune
An SUV drives down Gillogly Road in Twin Lakes Township on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022.
An SUV drives down Gillogly Road in Twin Lakes Township on Thursday.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
Trees limbs and power lines sag beneath the weight of heavy, wet snow
Trees limbs and power lines sag beneath the weight of heavy, wet snow on Thursday on Gillogly Road in Twin Lakes Township. Downed trees and power lines caused widespread outages following the blizzard.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
Trees are laden with heavy snow near Gillogly Road in Twin Lakes Township
Trees are laden with heavy snow near Gillogly Road in Twin Lakes Township on Thursday.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
DSC_9808-2.jpg
A set of tire tracks is seen along Gillogly Road in Twin Lakes Township on Thursday.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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