One year later: National Weather Service, residents reflect on Duluth's Thanksgiving storm

Emily Ness
Updated: November 30, 2020 12:04 PM
Created: November 29, 2020 05:18 PM

It has been one year since the Thanksgiving weekend storm that quite literally buried the City of Duluth. On Sunday, WDIO spoke to the National Weather Service and residents of Duluth about the storm’s historic impact.

“It was probably a one in 20 year, one in 30 year event,” Joe Moore, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth said. “One of the top ten most intense snow storms to ever hit the Duluth metro.”

The storm brought with it two feet of snow—burying cars on both sides of the road and making it nearly impossible for plows to pass through.

“To get something above a foot is a big deal. To get something over two feet is historic,” Moore said.

Following the storm, city officials advised people to stay home as they worked to clear the roads. Kate Van Daele, public information officer for the City of Duluth said they had plows out for 12-16 hours at a time.

But, a shortage of staff due to the holiday weekend, plus strained machinery due to the amount of snow slowed plows’ efforts, leaving many stranded.

Alex Flinner of Duluth recalled the challenges the storm brought him and his wife this time last year.

“The snow caused a little bit of panic because my wife was nine months pregnant and we were wondering if she was going to go into labor with the snow and everything. She didn’t until a week later,” Flinner said. “We couldn’t actually get out the front door of our house. It was buried. Our neighbor dug out the front doors and we started digging out from the back.”

Ultimately, Mayor Emily Larson issued an apology for the city’s response to the storm.

“This was not the kind of response we’d like to provide all of you,” Larson said. “Your safety and your ability to get around and operate and live your life is really, really important to me and our entire team.”

Moore said there are lessons that can be learned from this storm about how to prepare for any in the future.

“Make sure that you have three days' worth of supplies in your home. Food, water, medication. Any time a winter storm is coming up, make sure you have those supplies just in case it's a storm like the 2019 storm,” Moore said.

This, along with keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle and bundling up will help you weather any future storms and keep you safe for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.


Emily Ness

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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