It’s the story every new Midwesterner is bound to hear. Any complaints about early flurries or too much snow will end in tales of donning snowsuits over costumes and trick or treating on sleds.
The Halloween Blizzard of 1991 dumped more than a foot of snow across Minnesota and Wisconsin, cementing its place in the lore of local history.
Hudson, along with the neighboring Twin Cities, saw even more. Snow started on Halloween Thursday, with more than 2 feet falling in total. By Monday, after it all had time to settle, on-ground measurements showed 19 inches. Other local measurements showed 20 inches.
River Falls and New Richmond, Wisconsin, saw about 20 inches of snow as well, with the New Richmond news calling the record-breaking snow “Mother Nature’s idea of a Halloween prank.”
Ellsworth Senior High School’s football field was buried in 16 inches. A change from snow to freezing rain also produced a coating of ice.
School canceled classes and businesses closed in the aftermath. Many people compared the blizzard to that of the 1940 Armistice Blizzard.
Still, some kids were willing to brave the weather for their treats.
“But neither ran, sleet nor snow prevented many kids from making the round in their neighborhood,” The River Falls Journal reported.
Snow boots and jackets were added to the year’s costumes. The storm did cut down the number of trick-or-treaters, with the Star-Observer reporting most people only saw a handful of children.
Road conditions were rough -- snow-packed and ice-encrusted. The condition of I-94 was like “driving on a washboard with deep ruts and slippery surfaces,” according to a Hudson Star-Observer report.
The Emergency Communications Center received 98 calls the Friday following Halloween, almost double its usual numbers, most of which were for disabled cars, accidents or power outages.
Hudson Public Works' 15 employees put in more than 300 hours from Thursday to Sunday to dig the community out. Then-Superintendent Henry Paulson reported he got 5½ hours of sleep over the course of three days.
“By the time Sunday night rolled around, we had two trucks broken down -- one with bad hydraulics, the other with a burned-out rear drive -- and all of our snowblowers were kaput,” he told the paper.
But crews worked to get roads passable by Sunday.
New Richmond also had some maintenance trouble, with its big snowblower becoming disabled on Thursday, likely blowing a gasket. The city’s front end load operators and truck drivers worked 156-hour shifts, staying until everything weas opened up.
St. Croix County plows saw drifts as high as 10 feet in areas. Then-Commissioner Dan Fedderly said the county was as ready as it could be.
“But I don't know if one could ever be ready for what they’re billing as the storm of the century," he said.
River Falls approved more than 290 hours of overtime to get roads clear, a cost of $5,400. About 120 vehicles were also towed, as the city had just begun a new odd-even parking system.
Virtually no mail was delivered over the course of two days, according to Robert Jacobs, Hudson postmaster at the time.
Supermarkets were busier than ever, local managers said, with people stocking up on staples. Every snow shovel and ice scraper were gone, as well as every rental video -- that’s VHS. Video store managers were packed, with one store renting an estimated 1,100-1,200 videos. “Silence of the Lambs” and Kevin Costner’s “Robin Hood” were popular picks.
A couple babies just couldn't wait for the snow to clear to make their debut.
Angela Haney of Glenwood City went into labor Saturday night, she told the New Richmond News. On the way to the Holy Family Hospital in New Richmond, the car got stuck in a snowbank. Help from a neighbor, and then an escort from a sheriff’s deputy got them to the hospital in time to welcome a healthy baby girl Brittany Kay. She was one of three babies born at the hospital during the storm.
Hudson resident Paula MacDonald welcomed daughter Rebecca after an hour and a half trek on I-94 to United Hospital in St. Paul. The parents borrowed a neighbor’s four-wheel drive vehicle to make the trip, though a neighbor studying obstetrics was prepared to help deliver the baby on the kitchen floor if they couldn’t make it.
Elementary students from Edina were stranded at Camp St. Croix in Hudson. The group of 85 were supposed to leave on Friday, but couldn’t get out of camp until Saturday when the camp’s tractors and local plowing company were able to plow a path to the campground buildings.
Down south, the impact was lighter. Goodhue and Pierce counties saw about 5 to 6 inches of snow as measured the morning of Nov. 1.
Schools were still closed in the area, with districts concerned about possible freezing rains and more snow.