Weather Talk: 1886-87 winter was coldest on record

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There is a string of record lows for Fargo-Moorhead during the first few days of December that stand out as rogue records.

For Dec. 2-4, the record lows are in the 30s below zero. It is difficult to conceive of three consecutive days with temperatures that cold so early in a winter. But the winter of 1886-87 remains, by far, the coldest winter in recorded history for our region.

It began with a monster 21-inch snowstorm Nov. 22-23. Bitter cold followed. The first three days of December brought highs below minus 10 followed by lows of 30, 33 and 35 degrees degrees below zero — by far the coldest weather on record in our region for this early in a winter season. A few weeks later, on Jan. 8, 1887, came the all-time record low for Fargo-Moorhead: 48 degrees below zero.

Such extreme cold must have been terrible for early Fargo-Moorhead residents living in drafty houses with wood frames. But imagine living through such a winter out on the flat, windswept prairie in a sod house!

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