The Big Story Blog

Recalling Halloween blizzard as family struggles in east

Posted at 12:00 PM on October 31, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Weather

I was in an airplane the night of the 1991 Halloween blizzard, hoping to land at MSP, hearing grim reports from the cockpit about conditions on the ground and worried about about my wife, who I knew was trying to get to the airport to pick me up.

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I'd moved to Washington, D.C., for work a couple months earlier. Marta had stayed behind in Minnesota to finish up at her job. The plan was for me to fly in Halloween night, pack up a 20 foot rental truck the next day and we'd head back east together.

Circling above, though, I figured two-plus feet of snow would make that tough. After flying for what I recall was two extra hours, we got the OK to land. It wasn't a bad landing. Marta had made it to the airport after a white-knuckle three hour ride from Marine on St. Croix, a trip that normally takes about an hour.

When we called for the truck the next day, the rental guy said it would take two days just to dig the truck out.

Days later we were on the road. But while it stopped snowing the roads were still nasty. Interstate 94 was an ice sheet through western Wisconsin. I didn't really feel under control until Indiana.

Weirdly, as I write today about the Halloween blizzard here 20 years ago, my 79-year-old mother and other family in Connecticut are trapped at home with no power and no water from a freak blizzard that dropped upward of 20 inches in the northwestern part of the state.

They could be without power for for a week.

I don't want to get in a contest over which region of the country has the worst weather. Connecticut, where I grew up, doesn't get to 30 below. And most years there on the first day of spring, it really feels like spring.

But in the span of 10 months, my home state's dealt with a Christmas blizzard, , Hurricane Irene, which deluged the state in August and now this.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.