Episode 111

Episode #111 - Prairietales #2 - Blizzard 1975

When we talk about the midwest sometimes we forget to mention the weather. The climate in the midwest is pretty much as you might guess, warm in the summer and cold in the winter. 

There’s a phenomenon in the midwest where the weather changes very quickly. I’ve seen the temperature shift almost 100 degrees in 24 hours. In January 1943 in Spearfish, SD the temperature increased 49 degrees in 2 minutes from 4 below zero to a sunny 45 degrees. 2 minutes. 


Let’s not forget the wind…. There’s so much damn wind here, there are wind turbines all over in the southwestern corner of Minnesota and Eastern South Dakota. It seems like it is always windy here.. Chinook winds from the southwest bring warm winds and Alberta Clippers bring the cold arctic wind. 


The I-90 and I-29 corridors in Western MN, Eastern SD, Northern IA is where I’m from. There’s The Buffalo Ridge in Southwest MN, which turns into the Coteau Ridge as it runs north just past the North Dakota border. This is known as the Coteau de Prairies, a flatiron plateau where the wind builds strength before it rolls down the plateau and across the prairie, spinning the wind turbines like a child’s pinwheel.  


We don’t hear enough about the blizzards. The wind is what separates a snowfall from a blizzard. Not a winter storm, but the full on, you better have your shit together, for real or you could die fucking blizzards. 


Since we just had a blizzard I figured I would tell you a story about my mom and one of the worst blizzards on record. 


There’s probably a lot of people listening that don’t know what a blizzard is like. I’m gonna do my best to describe it.. 


Let me paint you a picture, it’s white….. And I slap you in the face with it a hundred times while your extremities freeze and you can’t see. 


The blizzard I’m gonna tell you about started on January 9th, 1975. This particular blizzard had winds sustained at 45-55 mph and gusts up to 80 miles per hour. Yes. 80. Imagine freeway fast snow, ice and debris coming at you as the wind takes your breath away. You can only breathe if you don’t bury your head in your coat or scarf. The wind shapes the drifts that can drastically change the landscape. You can’t tell which way you are going, in the upper midwest if you are stuck you never leave your vehicle to walk somewhere. 


Obviously, that was more important back before cell phones, but still sometimes out here (Yes even now) there’s dead zones. Calls are dropped and texts just sit there half sent.. That’s not where you want to be when the wind picks up and the snow starts flying. 



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Little Crimes on the Prairie
True Crime stories from the upper midwest