Nebraska November 16, 2017
It’s Impossible To Forget These 5 Horrific Winter Storms That Have Gone Down In Nebraska History
We’ve seen our share of harsh winter weather here in Nebraska…maybe more than our share, in fact. But a few years have brought huge storms that we’ll never forget. These storms caused destruction and death, and they left a lasting mark on Nebraska.
1. 1888: The Schoolchildren's Blizzard
January 12, 1888 was an unseasonably warm winter day that came after several days of snow and bitter cold. Thanks to the warmer temperatures, many children went to school without their heavy coats and other proper winter attire. It was a surprise to everyone when a fast-moving blizzard blustered into Nebraska in the afternoon, bringing with it brutally cold winds and massive amounts of snow. Given the timing of the storm, many people were trapped away from home, most notably children who were at school. Many children and teachers perished in the unforgiving conditions, but several stories of heroism arose from the tragedy.
Read the story of a heroic Nebraska schoolteacher here
2. 1948-1949: The Worst Winter Ever
This truly monumental storm began on November 18, 1948, and more or less didn't end until April of the following year. Again, this epic blizzard was preceded by mild temperatures, and the forecast called for continued nice days with a low chance of precipitation. So it's understandable that the state was entirely unprepared for the chaos that ensued. Roads closed all throughout Nebraska. Families were trapped in their homes. Trains stopped running. Livestock died by the thousands. President Truman declared a state of emergency in January 1949 and government relief efforts helped reduce some of the storm's damage. However, it was too late to help the economy, the farmers and ranchers, and the scores of individuals and businesses who suffered losses.
Read more about this once-in-a-lifetime storm here
3. 1975: The Great Storm
This intense storm began on January 9th and continued until the 12th, though Nebraska wasn't hit until the 10th. In other states, the storm began with a series of rare January tornados which caused widespread destruction. In eastern Nebraska, more than a foot of snow covered the ground and record-low barometric pressure was recorded. This blizzard produced less snow than some of the others, but it was arguably one of the most severe thanks to the record low temperatures, strong winds of up to 50 MPH (with gusts up to 90 MPH), and very low visibility.
4. 1991: The Halloween Blizzard
Those of us who lived in eastern Nebraska and were of trick-or-treating age in 1991 still vividly remember this as the year Halloween was canceled. A storm actually
was in the forecast for the 31st, though the predictions didn't indicate just how painfully cold the temperatures would get and how much snow would fall. But first came the ice. Up to an inch of solid ice was covered by 5.7 inches of snow, which was a new record for that day. The conditions were so treacherous that even walking outside was extremely nerve-wracking and dangerous. Trick-or-treating was eventually rescheduled for a few days later, but it was still icy, snowy, and intensely cold outside, so not many families took advantage of the do-over. Before you feel too sorry fo the kids, remember that Minneapolis/St. Paul was hit far harder than the Omaha area.
5. 1997: October Surprise
Just a handful of years later, October brought another intense storm through Nebraska, hitting the Lincoln and Omaha areas particularly hard. From October 24th to the 26th, a wet, heavy snow fell...and fell...and fell. Thousands of trees were damaged beyond repair, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were without power (some for up to two weeks), and Halloween was again canceled. This time, though, there was no do-over scheduled.
Read more about this epic storm, which happened 20 years ago this year, right here
How many of these incredible storms have you lived through? When do you think we’ll see another history-making winter storm? Share your memories and predictions in the comments!