Dakota Datebook

WWalkerinter of 1948

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The winter of 1948 was yet another in a long line with cold temperatures, heavy snow and typical wintery conditions. On this date, a particularly bad two-day blizzard was sweeping across eastern North Dakota. In the Red River Valley, the wind hit 72 miles an hour. Bus service stopped and trains pulled into their stations five hours later than scheduled, finally canceling further trips. People were stranded as transportation routes closed.


Despite the bad conditions, schools stayed open, though parents were advised to “use their own judgment” on sending children to school. No such thing as a snow day here! Even before this storm struck, blizzard conditions had forced two teachers living in Aneta and teaching at Kloten to make their way by plane.


In the aftermath of the weather, two men were found dead near Stanley—a father and son, the former a veteran of the Spanish American war, and the latter a World War II veteran. They had gone out to get some hay, and the load tipped over twice. The elder man was eventually found beneath the hay pile, either frozen or suffocated to death. Other accidents occurred in the terrible conditions, as well.


Extreme weather that February also plagued other parts of the country. The Weather Bureau had its 78th anniversary “without noticing it,” a spokesman telling reporters that they were so busy trying to figure out what the weather would be like that they hadn’t really thought about the years they had been in existence.


One weatherman told reporters that forecasting the weather had only gotten harder over time, saying:


“As weather forecasting has improved through the years—and it has improved—the public has … kept expecting more and more of us, so the job gets tougher all the time…Way back there, a fellow could say ‘it looks like we’ll have a storm in two or three days,’ and if they had a storm around that time everybody said ‘that guy must be good. He knows his stuff.’ Now…when we say there will be a storm, people want to know exactly what hour or what minute the wind will start to blow and how hard, when the rain will start to fall, and how much of it. And then if we miss it, people say ‘those guys are nuts.’”


Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



Grand Forks Herald, evening, Feb. 10, 1948; Feb. 17, 1948; Feb. 19, 1948; Feb. 20, 1948


This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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