In 1940, Wisconsin Was Hit With The Worst Blizzard In State History

Most often in Wisconsin, blizzards don’t hit the whole state. Typically, only parts of the state suffer from a winter storm; however, that’s not always the case. On November 11 and 12, 1940, for example, Wisconsin’s worst blizzard, otherwise known as the Armistice Day Blizzard, wreaked havoc on the entire state. Striking out of nowhere, Wisconsin’s worst blizzard dumped a foot of snow on the state and was accompanied by 50 to 80 mph winds that created 20-foot drifts. When all was said and done, the blizzard claimed the lives of more than 150 people, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in Wisconsin. It wasn’t just one of the worst natural disasters in Wisconsin, though. The storm was so big that it stretched across Wisconsin and Minnesota and into Illinois and Michigan, devastating the Midwest.

So, did you already know the story of Wisconsin’s worst blizzard? Have any relatives that experienced the blizzard first hand? Remember another record snowfall in Wisconsin? Tell us!

This may be Wisconsin’s worst blizzard, but it’s not the state’s only blizzard. We’ve had our fair share of winter storms here in Wisconsin. Read about 12 of the worst right here.

The OIYS Visitor Center

Wisconsin's Worst Blizzard

September 28, 2021

What are some other history-making natural disasters in Wisconsin?

Of all the natural disasters in Wisconsin, the Peshtigo Fire remains one of the worst natural disasters, not only in the state’s history, but in the nation’s history. The wildfire began blazing on October 8, 1871, and quickly spread due to a combination of extremely dry conditions and high wind. The village of Sugar Bush was first hit and completely demolished by the fire. The 200-foot flames then raced toward the community of Peshtigo. Within a 2-hour period, both Peshtigo, as well as the neighboring community of Brussels, were completely obliterated. When all was said and done, roughly 1,500 people lost their lives and just as many were injured. Property loss was also substantial. At least 3,000 people were left homeless.

Are there any fun things to do during winter in Wisconsin?

Winter in Wisconsin means lots of snow and lots of opportunities for seasonal fun! A winter enthusiast’s dream come true, Wisconsin boasts great skiing, ice skating, ice biking, ice bowling, and tons more cold-weather adventures. One of the best things to do in winter in Wisconsin, though, is dog sledding. You’ll find several dog sledding outfitters in the Badger State, including Siberian Outpost. Fun for all ages, the outpost offers demonstrations, tours, and tailor-made dog sled rides.

Aside from Wisconsin’s worst blizzard, what’s another record-making winter storm in the state?

Many years before the Armistice Day Blizzard, there was another record snowfall in Wisconsin, which would later become known as the Big Snow of 1881. The history-making storm began as a light rain on February 26, 1881. Over the next seven days, Wisconsin was hit by two blizzards, which dumped massive amounts of snow on the state. According to reports, residents had to dig tunnels to their front doors and the snow shoveled from sidewalks was piled so high that it reached the second story of adjacent buildings.