What Sort of a Winter Will We Have?
December 10, 2010
It was cold this morning, and the skies were gray. The winter solstice of December 21, when we have the least sunlight of the year, is not quite here. But, we can cope pretty well these days with artificial light and central heat. Can you imagine what it was like for early pioneers in the central plains? Think of living with only a fireplace, sod houses, carriages for transportation, and no electric lights.
The book, The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin, tells of those times. Long before satellite weather reports, a quick moving cold front in January 1888 caught many people by surprise. In some places, the temperature fell 50 degrees in four hours. Winds blew at blizzard speeds. Particularly affected were Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota. After a daylong storm, over five hundred people were dead across the prairie; many of them immigrants from Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the Ukraine. This storm is recorded as the deadliest blizzard in the prairie states and reminds us of the benefits of modern meteorology and quick accurate weather information. Affected families recorded their experiences in memoirs and passed down the stories. Drop by the library, check it out, and read up a storm.