While a late October snowstorm that swept through eastern states now is garnering weather headlines, longtime area residents will recall their own experiences with the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 that swept across the Upper Midwest.

Halloween fell on a Thursday and by noon that day, a light snow already had begun to fall.

Youngsters heading to the recently opened River Hills Mall for an evening of indoor trick-or-treating had only to skip through a light covering of snow in the parking lot on the way in.

But when they emerged two hours later, they were greeted by nearly a foot of heavy, wet snow on the ground with more snow continuing to fall.

At the same time, near Nicollet, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers were mounting a search for three duck hunters from Mound, Minn., who had gotten lost on the 10,000-acre Swan Lake during the storm.

After a two-hour search in the heavy snow that had reduced visibility to fewer than 50 feet, the hunters were located, cold but unharmed.

By Friday morning, virtually all of Minnesota had ground to a halt with  schools and major highways shutdown as wind gusts of nearly 50 mph swept across the state creating blizzard conditions.

 Austin and Albert Lea suffered major power outages that forced scores of residents into temporary shelters.

By the time the storm abated early Saturday morning, more than 20 inches of snow had fallen in the Mankato area, eclipsing a former November snowfall record set during the Armistice Day Blizzard, Nov. 11, 1940, when 15.5 inches of snow fell.

In Minneapolis, 28.9 inches of snow was recorded and in Duluth, 36.9 inches of snow fell. Six deaths in Minnesota were blamed on the storm.

Area residents spent most of the weekend digging out in the wake of what some were billing The Storm of the Century.

 The weather then took a decidedly milder turn and only vestiges of the record snow could be seen two weeks later.

But the unusually early snowstorm still proved to be harbinger of things to come for the winter of 1991-92.

 Minneapolis went on to record what now stands as sixth snowiest winter on record, racking up 84 inches with 50 inches already tallied by Dec. 1, 1991, just 5 inches shy of the average annual snowfall for an entire winter.

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