Wyoming December 21, 2016
A Terrifying, Deadly Storm Struck Wyoming In 1949 And No One Saw It Coming
We’ve seen some nasty storms here in Wyoming, but none quite as bad as the deadly storm of 1949. Most of us weren’t alive to remember that horrible winter, but we’ve all heard stories from our parents and grandparents who were there to witness it.
On the evening of January 2, 1949, a massive blizzard hit Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
Communities had little warning of the severity of the storm, until it was too late. Unfortunately, the initial storm was just one of many that would pummel the state over the next few months.
The initial storm lasted three days and killed nine people in Wyoming.
The last three casualties discovered after the first storm were Mr. and Mrs. Archuleta and their five-year-old daughter, who were found about 3.5 miles from their home in Hillsdale, frozen to death in their car. Most of the others who died froze to death as well; one man had a heart attack.
Entire towns were snowed in, and all transportation was cut off. 3,300 miles of roads were covered in snow; many people who weren't able to reach their homes in time were trapped in their cars.
Because the roads were impassable, towns began to run out of groceries. Ranches were cut off from travel. The U.S. Army sent bulldozers to clear the roads, but as soon as they cleared them, another storm rolled in and covered the roads with fresh snow.
Thousands of cattle froze or starved to death. The U.S. Air Force dropped bales of hay to starving cattle; in some cases at drop-off points, and trucks disbursed the hay to nearby fields.
For the 45 days following the initial blizzard, new storms just kept coming. The temperature never climbed above zero during that time, and snowdrifts reached 20 to 30 feet tall. Winds raged at 30 to 80 mph. Entire homes were buried to their roofs; towns completely shut down for weeks.
The storms finally eased off in March, but it would be July until many of the largest snowbanks completely melted. In all, nearly 80 people died across Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
What stories does your family tell about the blizzard of 1949? To learn more about the Blizzard of 1949, watch the PBS special,
“Storm of the Century: The Blizzard of ’49.” Watch some footage below:
Sometimes, Wyoming’s winters are deadly, but usually the snow just makes everything look magical. Take a look at these
12 Majestic Spots in Wyoming That Look Like The North Pole.