The deadly early March blizzard of 1966

Weather Whys

While we are certainly enjoying spring-like weather, March can be vastly different from year to year in North Dakota. Take 1966, for instance. Many North Dakotans were digging their way out of an early March blizzard. Most of us in North Dakota are familiar with blizzards. We see them from year to year with varying aftermaths. But there are a few for the history books and March of 1966 was one of them because of its record severity.

Snow began on the morning of March 2nd of that year and ended on March 4th. Over seventy mile per hour wind gusts lasted for over four days in parts of our state. Combined with over two feet of snow, drifts were as high as forty feet. Many businesses and schools close. Newspapers didn’t publish. All forms of transit were stalled. Near-zero visibility didn’t let up for over forty hours. Many were trapped in their homes or where they were when the storm started. Tens of thousands of livestock were lost. Many livestock suffocated in barns encased by snowdrifts. North Dakotan’s had about a day’s notice the storm was coming… which was great at that time and has been credited for the low death toll compared to prior deadly blizzards.

In total, eighteen people died in the Great Plains. Five were from North Dakota… including two children. A six-year-old girl from Strasburg was separated from her brothers less than 60 feet from her home while seeking shelter. She was found a quarter of a mile away after the storm passed. Another 12-year-old girl from Woodworth ran out of the house to close a chicken coop door and never made it back.

But the first responders had to brave the elements. P.C. Davidson was the Operator of the Fargo Moorhead ambulance service, “I can’t say enough good about the cooperation we seem to get. It seems that people are really concerned when someone needs an ambulance. We had one run this morning where they required an ambulance. Right away, a person who had been sick became sicker and we made it over there with two police squad cars and a snowplow”

The week after the storm, we warmed to the 60s. That snow didn’t last long and there was a rapid melt.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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