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Bruno, Cruella, Earl: Check out every blizzard name from the last 30 years

The Herald has been naming blizzards for more than 30 years.

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East Grand Forks resident Glenn Fontaine takes a break from blowing snow following Blizzard Becca Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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Some parts of the country have hurricanes. North Dakota and Minnesota have blizzards.

And in Grand Forks, the Herald names local blizzards. That's been the case since at least 1990.

How does the Herald determine the names? Traditionally, the Herald’s publisher or other top news administrators make the call, but collaboration and submissions from the newsroom and elsewhere are always welcome.

The season’s first blizzard carries a male or female name starting with the letter A, and nameworthy storms will continue with the alphabet while alternating genders. Each winter season starts fresh from the top of the alphabet, but reversing the gender order.

Since the 1989-90 winter, the Herald has named at least 56 blizzards or storms. The most memorable was Blizzard Hannah, the final storm of the infamous 1996-97 winter that preceded the devastating flood of that spring.

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The Herald’s record-keeping on blizzards has improved over the years. Some of the reasons for naming blizzards in the 1990s and early 2000s have been lost over time, but recent years have seen the Herald make greater efforts to log the blizzard names for the sake of history.

“That’s why we name blizzards – for history’s sake,” said Publisher Korrie Wenzel. “We all remember some of these blizzards, and usually many people remember the names, too. And when you remember a blizzard with a name that starts with an ‘F’ or ‘G,’ for instance, you’ll pretty quickly realize that particular winter was probably a rough one.”

Here are some rules and other notable facts related to naming blizzards:

  • The Herald doesn't name blizzards until the National Weather Service declares one officially for Grand Forks County. There have been a few times the Herald has named winter storms, often because the storms were downgraded yet still notable. 
  • Typically, only storms that strike Grand Forks are named but an occasional exception is made. One recent notable example was Blizzard Barack in 2009, which hit Devils Lake. 
  • The brainchild of naming blizzards is Greg Turosak, who was the Herald's city editor at the time. He later became managing editor before taking a job with the Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin.
  • Names normally have some meaning: usually it's a person with local or regional ties, provides some symbolism or offers up a unique, funny or attention-worthy connection. Ideally, the name is creative.

“We decided to name blizzards because they are as much a part of our culture and environment as hurricanes and typhoons are elsewhere, and those are named,” the Herald wrote in the 1991 story about Blizzard Chester. “We hope that eventually, in regional weather lore, people will start remembering Blizzard Arne the way they would remember Hurricane Camille or Hurricane Hugo – a name to help fix the time and the events.”

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A snowplow clears snow off of Gateway Drive near I-29 in Grand Forks as blizzard Gigi moves through the Red River Valley in 2014. JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD

Here’s a look back at blizzards over the past three decades and, when possible, how they got their names:

1989-1990

Arnie – Jan. 11, 1990

Berta – March 15, 1990

1991-1992

Chester – Nov. 30, 1991

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  • Blizzard Chester was named after Chester Fritz, noted benefactor of the UND campus and after whom its library and performing auditorium are named.

Dagmar – Dec. 1991

  • Blizzard Dagmar was named after the common Scandinavian female name.

1995-1996

Anna – Dec. 8, 1995

Bruno – Jan. 17, 1996

Cruella – Feb. 11, 1996

  • Blizzard Cruella was named for the movie villainess, Cruella De Vil, who wanted to make fur coats out of 101 Dalmatians.

Darrel – Feb. 28, 1996

  • Blizzard Darrel was named for then-staff writer Darrel Koehler, who was noted as the Herald's weather guru, who had correctly predicted many blizzards, the Herald noted in its 1996 story.

Erin – March 24, 1996

1996-1997

Andy – Nov. 16-17, 1996

Betty – Dec. 16-18, 1996

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Christopher – Dec. 20, 1996

Doris – Jan. 9-11, 1997

Elmo – Jan. 14-16, 1997

  • Blizzard Elmo, named for the furry, red Muppet with the lovable laugh. In short supply and all the rage, "Tickle Me Elmo" dolls were flying off toy shelves faster than they could be stocked that winter.
Blizzard Elmo Hannah
Blizzard Hannah, the fiercest of the eight blizzards in the winter of 1996-97, was the namesake of Hannah Vonasek, who was not yet 2 at the time and the daughter of Herald Enterprise Editor Janelle Vonasek. Hannah's beloved toy, Tickle Me Elmo, also had a blizzard named after him in 1997. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

Franzi – Jan. 22-23, 1997

  • The Herald named the latest blizzard Franzi after a German exchange student in Langdon, N.D. The student, Franziska Vogel, lived with the Rev. Kitch Shatzer of Langdon and had been quite enthralled by our blizzards, friends told the Herald.

Gust – March 4, 1997

Hannah – April 4-6, 1997

  • Named after the daughter of Herald staffer Janelle Vonasek, Blizzard Hannah was the final winter storm of the 1996-1997 and happened just before the Flood of 1997. The blizzard – to this day one of the most famous of the named blizzards – not only brought 7 inches of snow in Grand Forks, but brought rain, ice, snow and winds that snapped power lines like twigs and triggered power outages across the region. 
Blizzard Hannah
Rural power lines were snapped like toothpicks in Norman County, Minn., after Blizzard Hannah (No. 8) coated them with ice and leveled them with winds of 44 mph. (Photo by Bill Alkofer)

1997-1998

Aurora – March 13, 1998

  • The blizzard was named after Aurora Jimenez, who operated the Mexican-American eatery Aurora's Cocina in South Forks Plaza at the time.

1998-2000

Alex – Nov. 10, 1998

Brigid – Nov. 18, 1998

  • While not technically a blizzard, Brigid was named after Brigid Kavanagh,  who was director of the Koinonia Spirituality Center at the time.

2000-2001

Adele – Nov. 19, 2000

  • The Herald named the storm Adele for Adele Kupchella, UND president Charles Kupchella's wife.

Bill – Dec. 15, 2000

  • Ground Blizzard Bill was named after Bill Cosby, who was set to open the Alerus Center in the months following.

Carol – Dec. 20, 2000

Dale – Feb. 24-25, 2001

2001-2002

Al – Oct. 24, 2001

Bonnie – Dec. 22, 2001

Cory – Feb. 9, 2002

  • Blizzard Cory was the blizzard that never happened. “It was the blizzard that wasn't, at least in the Grand Forks region. The Herald even had a name for it: Cory. But there's not much to go with the name,” the Herald wrote in 2002. “Winds whipped across North Dakota on Saturday as predicted, but the state avoided heavy snowfalls that blanketed parts of other Plains states. The National Weather Service canceled winter weather advisories for southwest North Dakota and most of central and eastern North Dakota, including Grand Forks.”

2002-2003

Arlys – Feb. 11, 2003

2004-2005

Ann – Jan. 21, 2005

  • Blizzard Ann was named for actress Ann Sothern, who was born Jan. 22, 1909, in Valley City, N.D., and lived in North Dakota for a short time.
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Blizzards are a regular occurrence in the upper Midwest. (Herald photo by Tess Williams)

2005-2006

Zach – Oct. 5, 2005

  • The Herald made the unique decision to start with the end of the alphabet to name blizzards during the 2005-2006 winter season. The storm arrived in early October 2005 and was 

York – Nov. 15, 2005

2008-2009

Ali – Dec. 14, 2008 

  • The blizzard was named after Grand Forks’ playground queen.

Barack – Jan. 12, 2009

  • While “Blizzard-elect Barack” technically missed Grand Forks, the storm did hit Devils Lake. It was named after then-President-elect Barack Obama. 

Coyote – March 10, 2009 

  • This blizzard was named for the female Husky on the sled dog team mushed by Nancy Yoshida of Thompson, North Dakota, which competed in the Iditarod in Alaska.

2009-2010

Alvin – Dec. 25-26, 2009

  • This Christmas blizzard was named for mischievous ringleader of the cartoon “Alvin and The Chipmunks” who famously sang “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don’t Be Late)" (If this Christmas storm – the mischievous Alvin – meddled with your holiday plans, join us in bellowing, “Aaaaalviiiin!”)

Brett – Jan. 23-25, 2010 

  • The weather event was first a winter storm on Jan. 23-24 before it was upgraded to a blizzard on Jan. 25. It was named after NFL quarterback Brett Favre.

2010-2011

Adeline – Oct. 26-27, 2010 

  • This blizzard name was picked by readers in an online poll.

Byron – Nov. 24, 2010

  • The storm was named after U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
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Casey – Dec. 29, 2010

  • Blizzard Casey was named after then-WDAZ-TV reporter Casey Wonnenberg.

Dave – Dec. 31, 2010 

  • The Herald named the New Year’s Eve storm for then-UND men's hockey coach Dave Hakstol. Hakstol now coaches the Seattle Kraken in the NHL.
Dave Hakstol

Estra – March 11, 2011

  • This blizzard was named after the pagan goddess of the sunrise and spring.

2012-2013

Aaron – Jan. 11, 2013

  • The first blizzard of the season was named after then-UND star basketball guard Aaron Anderson.

Beth – Jan. 19, 2013

  • This January 2013 was named after two Beths, Elizabeth Anderson, a well-known Grand Forks resident and Beth Winkler, a Herald employee who had retired from the newspaper just two days before.

Cooper – Feb. 10, 2013

  • This storm was named for media personality Anderson Cooper, who befriended local columnist Marilyn Hagerty in 2012.

Dolley – Feb. 18, 2013

  • Blizzard Dolley was named after First Lady Dolley Madison.

Eric – March 4, 2013 

  • Winter Storm Eric was named for Herald photographer Eric Hylden, who often trudges out into the bad weather to capture blizzard photos. The fifth major storm of the year left behind up to a foot of snow in some areas.
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Eric Hylden

Fiona – March 18, 2013

  • On the cusp of spring, Blizzard Fiona brought  about 4.6 inches on the Grand Forks area. The Herald named the storm Fiona, which is Celtic for "white, fair."

Grayson -- April 14-15, 2013

  • Winter Storm Grayson dropped as much as 10 inches of snow in the region. The Herald named the storm Grayson, the firstborn son of Mary Jo Hotzler, a departing Herald editor at the time.

2013-14

Anita -- Dec. 28, 2013 

  • Blizzard Anita, named for then-Herald Director of Finance Anita Geffre, who spearheaded the Santa Claus Girls at the time, brought poor visibility to the region and stranded some motorists.

Bubba Jan. 3, 2014

  • Short-lived Blizzard Bubba was more bluster than bite as it quickly blew through the Grand Forks region in January 2014. The storm was named after UND football coach Bubba Schweigert.
UND head football coach Bubba Schweigert
File photo of UND head football coach Bubba Schweigert. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Corene – Jan. 16, 2014

  • The Herald named the blizzard for Corene Vaughn, a former Pembina County commissioner from Cavalier, North Dakota.

Dillon -- Jan. 22, 2014

  • Dillon was the fourth blizzard in the region that winter. The Herald named it after Dillon Simpson, a senior defenseman on the UND men's hockey team at the time.

Era Bell – Jan. 26, 2014 

  • This blizzard was named after UND alumnae Era Bell Thompson who was editor of Ebony magazine, received the North Dakota Roughrider Award in 1976 and had the multicultural center on the UND campus named after her.

Fred – Feb. 13, 2014 

  • UND meteorologist Fred Remer was the inspiration for the name of this blizzard.

Gigi – March 31, 2014

  • The final blizzard of the 2013-2014 season was named after U.S. Olympic silver medal winner Gigi Marvin, a Warroad, Minnesota native.
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Gigi Marvin, a member of the 2018 USA Olympic gold medal women's hockey team, talks about her experiences and her faith during a Day One event at Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks in 2019. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

2014-15

Andrew -- Jan. 3, 2015 

  • The winter storm was named after Andrew Freeman, inventor of the engine block heater and Grand Forks native.

Beryl – Jan. 8, 2015 

  • Blizzard Beryl was named for Beryl Levine, the first woman named to the North Dakota Supreme Court and a UND grad.

2015-16

No blizzards.

2016-17

Alivia – Dec. 6-7, 2016

  • Grand Forks’ first snowstorm of the 2016-2017 season dumped more than a foot of snow across the Red River Valley. The blizzard was named for Alivia Fraase. Alivia was one of the starters on the UND women’s volleyball team that won the conference championship and advanced to national Division I playoffs for the first time.
Blizzard Alivia
Will, left, and Collin Rohrich work together to clear a neighbor's driveway in the southend of East Grand Forks on Dec. 6, 2016 during blizzard Alivia. More than 10 inches of snow had fallen in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks overnight. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Blitzen – Christmas weekend, Dec. 25-26, 2016.

  • Grand Forks received 4 inches but some parts of the state had 10 or more inches and highways and interstates were closed and no travel was advised in almost the entire state. The storm was named for one of Santa’s reindeer, Blitzen.

Carrie – Jan. 12, 2017. 

  • Blizzard Carrie was named in honor of actress Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame, who died at the end of December 2016. High winds this day caused a ground blizzard, prompting a no travel advisory across much of eastern, northeastern and central North Dakota.
Blizzard Carrie
A vehicle turns off Fifth Avenue Northeast near Stauss Park in East Grand Forks on Jan. 12, 2017. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

2017-2018

Axl – Dec. 4, 2017

  • The first major winter storm of the 2017-2018 season shut down most of the Red River Valley, and included gusting winds, blowing snow and icy conditions. The storm was named after the son of North Dakota-born actor Josh Duhamel
Blizzard Axl
Talon Novak, a Grand Forks sixth-grader, races to his mother's car on Dec. 4, 2017 from Schroeder Middle School, which let children out at 12:30 p.m. as a blizzard hit Grand Forks. (April Baumgarten/Grand Forks Herald)

Betsy – Jan. 10, 2018 

  • The Herald named the storm after Betsy Perkins of Grand Forks. Perkins was the longtime manager of the former Amazing Grains food co-op, and at the time she and her husband were building an innovative energy-efficient home in town to see them through cold winters.
Blizzard Betsy
Kyle Schlieman wheels shopping carts back to the East Grand Forks Hugo's supermarket during the after-work rush in the early stage of the first blizzard of 2018. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

2018-2019

Alice – Dec. 27, 2018

  • The first blizzard of the 2018-2019 season was named after Alice Brekke, who served as UND’s vice president of finance for many years. The storm produced 4-8 inches of snow and brought wind gusts of around 50 mph.
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Tanner Boushee uses a four-wheeler to clear snow along a sidewalk in front of River Cinema in East Grand Forks on Dec. 27, 2018. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Bob – Dec. 31, 2018

  • Blizzard Bob was named after former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Rep. Bob  Bergland, who represented Minnesota’s 7th District and had recently died. The New Year’s Eve storm included biting winds and subzero temperatures to the region, but little snow.
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A tow truck driver works to pull a pickup out of the ditch south of East Grand Forks after the vehicle became stuck on Dec. 31, 2019. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Cheryl – Jan. 24, 2019

  • Blizzard Cheryl was named after the wife of Herald Publisher Korrie Wenzel. The storm made traffic difficult for motorists across the upper Red River Valley.

Duane – Jan. 26, 2019

  • The Herald named the blizzard Duane for Duane Wages II. A photo of Wages walking through a blizzard with his face buried in his coat frequently appears online with Herald winter weather stories. In the days following the blizzard, the region saw extreme cold.
Duane Wages faces a stiff north wind during a blizzard in this undated photo. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)
Duane Wages faces a stiff north wind during a blizzard in this undated photo. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

Emilia – Feb. 7, 2019

  • The storm was named after Emilia Hodgson, a Giving Hearts Day collaboration member. Giving Hearts Day is an annual event of matched fundraising set for Feb. 14. It closed schools and roads in the region.
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Mike Simmers clears the sidewalk on his block of 12th Street North in Grand Forks on Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Fido – Feb. 24, 2019

  • Due to Blizzard Fido’s high winds and reduced visibility, trucks carrying perishable food items were unable to deliver to the Grand Forks Target in February 2019. The Herald named the blizzard after hockey legend Fido Purpur.

Geraldine – March 14, 2019

  • The March 2019 blizzard was named after longtime Herald carrier Geraldine Pearson. 
Blizzard Geraldine
Randy Miller, of Johnson's Lawn Service, blows snow from a property near the corner of North Fourth St. and First Avenue North in downtown Grand Forks on March 14, 2019. Photo by Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

2019-2020

Adam – Oct. 11, 2019

  • Blizzard Adam, named after then-UND hockey goalie Adam Scheel, was an early season blizzard that came shortly after September flooding in the region.
Blizzard Adam
Janelle Strouse finds walking on the street easier than the sidewalk as she makes her way to volunteer at the Northlands Rescue Mission in Grand Forks on Oct. 11, 2019. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Brenda – Dec. 29-30, 2019

  • Noted as a “major, major blizzard,” Blizzard Brenda was named for Brenda Decker, a longtime UND football gameday crew member whose birthday was Dec. 30. It dumped more than 12 inches of snow in the region. 
Blizzard Brenda
Nick Johnson digs out his car along University Avenue near downtown Grand Forks on Dec. 30, 2019 after the weekend blizzard. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Carl – Jan. 18, 2020

  • Carl, named after Carl Jones, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Grand Forks office, brought 3.4 inches of snow and high winds to Grand Forks in January 2020.

DeAnna – Feb. 12, 2020

  • The storm, which stranded a UND atmospheric sciences professor on Highway 2 for eight hours , was named after DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of UND Alumni Association and Foundation.

2020-21

Aaliyah – Dec. 23, 2020

  • The Christmas week blizzard was named for Aaliyah Bramer, 9, of rural Oklee, Minn., who was featured in a Herald story after she wrote a letter to Santa with a wish: “I just want my family together.” It was the only blizzard in Grand Forks in 2020-21 and brought less than an inch of snow, the Herald reported.

2021-22

Alan – Dec. 4-5, 2021

  • As much as 10 inches of snow fell on the Greater Grand Forks region during the weekend blizzard that closed roads and delayed school openings. The Herald named the storm Blizzard Alan, in honor of Alan "Al" Palmer, who died Nov. 16 at the age of 69 from COVID-19 complications. Palmer was a retired brigadier general in the North Dakota Air National Guard who was a leader of the effort to build Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Forks.
Blizzard Alan
Scott Hamilton finishes digging out in front of his house on Fifth Avenue NW in East Grand Forks after the Dec. 4-5, 2021 blizzard dumped nearly 9 inches of snow in the Greater Grand Forks area. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Becca – Jan. 4-5, 2022

  • Schools were late, travel was hindered and winds gusted past 50 mph as Blizzard Becca swept through eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. The blizzard was named Becca Cruger, workforce development manager at the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation.
Blizzard Becca
Darin Meulebroeck clears his driveway during the blizzard early Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2022, on Eighth Street Southeast in East Grand Forks.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Chuck – Jan. 18, 2022

  • What started as a winter weather advisory during a relatively calm Tuesday morning, Jan. 18, was upgraded to a blizzard warning by mid-afternoon, as winds gusted toward 50 mph and affected visibility, especially in the open country outside of towns. The Herald named the storm Blizzard Chuck, in honor of longtime Grand Forks Herald columnist Chuck Haga.
Sundog Jan 18 2021.jpg
A sundog encircles the sky, but partially blocked out by a large cloud that was hanging on the horizon just west of Grand Forks late Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 18, 2022.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

Daphne — Jan. 31-Feb. 1

  • The Herald named the storm Blizzard Daphne, in honor of Daphne Enger, a 6-year-old from Grand Forks. In December, the Herald profiled Enger, who suffers from the brain disease Batten Disease-CLN2. Her parents, Brice and Lindsey, hope to raise awareness about the disease and asked readers to sign a petition to the FDA urging clinical trials and gene therapy.

    Jan 31 weather feature.jpg
    Curt Wollman and other basketball fans face a stiff south wind and heavy snowfall as they leave the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center after Monday's UND and SDSU men's game.
    Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Earl — Feb. 11-12

  • The Herald named the storm Blizzard Earl, in honor of Earl Haugen, director of the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization. The MPO has been in the news lately as it charts a path forward for a proposed bridge over the Red River in Grand Forks-East Grand Forks.
Blizzard delivery.jpg
Letter carrier Wade Haugland delivers mail on Greenwood Dr. in East Grand Forks during Friday's blizzard.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Finley — Feb. 18

  • Blizzard Finley brought high winds and poor visibility to the area. It also pushed back the North Dakota East Region boys hockey tournament by a day. The Herald has named the storm Blizzard Finley, in honor of young Finley Evenson, born last year in Grand Forks and the daughter of TJ and Lynn Evenson, of Bottineau. Lynn Evenson is a former Herald employee and now works for the newspaper in Bottineau, the Courant. Finley is the niece of longtime Herald and Forum Communications Co. employee Lori Weber Menke.

Gerald — Feb. 20

  • The Herald has named the storm Blizzard Gerald, in honor of Gerald Sieg, who recently retired from the Grand Forks County Highway Department. Sieg worked for the department for 59 years and among his duties during that time was driving snowplows and managing staff and snow removal on the county's roads.
Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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