Flowers bloom in parts of Minnesota this year, despite some nighttime frosts. The weather this November has been unusually balmy, at times shirt-sleeve weather. Today, November 10th, it reached 66 degrees Fahrenheit – a sunny, warm day.
This is not normal for us. In fact, when I was a child and heard about the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940, I could hardly believe the roses were still blooming (according to accounts I’ve heard) the morning of November 11th.
People were outdoors, ready to enjoy a lovely national holiday before winter came. Duck hunters were out in droves, perhaps with only a light jacket, if that. The weather started nice and then turned deadly.
Rain fell and temperatures plummeted. Throughout Minnesota and other Midwest states, the rain turned to sleet and snow, then into a raging blizzard, according to a National Weather Service account. It happened seventy-six years ago, and there are people among us who can tell their own stories of that storm. People like me, of the next generation, have heard about the Armistice Day Blizzard all our lives.
In North Dakota, my grandparents and their two young daughters (my mother and aunt) drove out of town and down a rustic road, so that my grandfather could walk into the countryside and hunt pheasants or partridge for supper. My grandmother stayed near the car, enjoying the outdoors with her two little girls. When the weather turned nasty, the three of them holed up in the car, nervously waiting for my grandfather to return. He eventually did, and they drove home through the blizzard.
Many stories didn’t end so well. Around 150 people died as a result of this storm. Today we live in a different era of weather forecasting, thanks in part to this event.