These days, the weather centers can predict storms weeks out. True, they aren’t always as accurate as we would like, but they can also predict corrections and update people with the changes. Of course, it is something we are used to in this day and age, but in 1941, weather centers didn’t exist. That was catastrophic for the people of North Dakota and Minnesota, when a fast-moving and quite severe blizzard hit on March 15th, killing 151 people. The storm came in so quickly that the people had no warning, and as a result far too many lost their lives.
Because of that storm, weather forecasting and reporting systems made important advances that would have prevented the loss of life that occurred due to the sudden storm. The people of North Dakota and northern Minnesota had virtually no warning of the blizzard that was coming, until it swept in suddenly from the west on March 15. In some locations, temperatures dropped 20 degrees in less than 15 minutes. They were hit with 55 mile per hour sustained winds, and gusts reaching 85 miles per hour in Grand Forks and 75 miles per hour in Duluth. The winds brought blinding snow and huge 7 foot high snow drifts across the states. Most of the victims of the blizzard were traveling in their cars when it hit. Highway 2, running from Duluth, Minnesota to North Dakota, was shut down, as were Highways 75 and 81. Attempts to rescue those stranded in their cars came too late. In one incident, six year old Wilbert Treichel died from exposure to the cold when his parents abandoned their car and attempted to carry him through the blizzard to safety.
People attending a basketball game in Moorhead, Minnesota, were stranded at the arena overnight when it was wisely decided that travel was too dangerous for the 2,000 people. Theaters, hotels and stores across the region stayed open through the night to accommodate the many people had visited them, completely unaware that a major storm was approaching. Although the storm was also severe in Manitoba, Canada, only seven people there died because the population was much better prepared for the storm and for dangerous weather in general.
Prior to this time, meteorologists in Chicago were concerned mostly with local weather. It wasn’t that they did not care about the people in surrounding areas, but rather that it was not traditional reporting to report weather for the other areas. In the aftermath of this blizzard, weathermen in North Dakota and Minnesota, who had been under the control of the Chicago meteorology office, which simply paid less attention to events occurring to the north, were allowed autonomy in their reporting. Protected with new technological advances in the wake of the disaster, area residents hoped they would never again be so blind-sided by a winter storm.
After what was a miserably hot Summer in Wyoming, as in much of the United States, Fall has finally arrived. It’s hard to believe that after praying for rain most of the Summer, we have had rain 3 times this week. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it would have been nice to get some of this rain in the Summer. Nevertheless, the cooler temperatures are finally here, as are the colors of Fall that we all love to see. While I usually say that Summer is my favorite season, and that is still true, this Summer has been so hot, that it was miserable, so for this year only, I think Fall might be my favorite.
While I probably won’t have any more time to get out and walk in this lovely Fall weather, I will do my best. The changing leaves are so pretty, even if we don’t have much of the gorgeous reds that you see back East, the green to yellow is also lovely…especially when those bright colors stretch as far as the eye can see. It looks like the sun landed in the trees.
Fall always brings memories of buying school supplies and clothes, of course that was back when it was closer to Fall when school started, and not still Summer, like these days. It also brings the realization that with Summer’s end and Fall’s beginning, Winter is not far behind. There has even been talk of snow on Wednesday. It always seems like Fall is mixed with Winter in Wyoming, which I wish would not be the case. The changing of the seasons might not seem so bad if they each took their turns. Winter simply needs to understand that it is not supposed to arrive until December 21, so what is with snow before that. Rain I don’t mind, but the snow should wait its turn.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t ask me what I think of it, so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter to it much. All I can do is try to get out and enjoy the Fall weather, before the season slips past me as Summer appears to have done. Like it or not…ready or not…here comes Fall!