John Wheeler: The Armistice Day blizzard of 1940 is an example of an early-season severe winter storm

The storm hit this region suddenly on Nov. 11, 1940, killing 154 people in the Upper Midwest.

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FARGO — The infamous Armistice Day Blizzard hit this region suddenly on Nov. 11, 1940, killing 154 people in the Upper Midwest. Among the dead were 49 Minnesotans, mostly bird hunters who froze to death after getting stranded in the heavy snow and falling temperatures. In Lake Michigan, 66 sailors drowned as numerous freighters and other small boats were sunk.

The storm came on suddenly and had not been well forecast. Temperatures in the morning were near 40 degrees but fell suddenly as north winds increased to 50 mph and higher. Gusts up to 80 mph were recorded. Rain fell, then turned to sleet, and then snow. The heaviest snow, 27 inches, fell on Collegeville, Minnesota. Minneapolis got 16 inches of snow. Only an inch or so fell in the Red River Valley, but the wind still managed to whip up blizzard conditions with temperatures falling below 10 degrees.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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