55 years Ago: South Dakota’s Monster Blizzard
A record-breaking storm hit South Dakota 55 years ago this weekend that paralyzed all citizens in its path. Today the Weather Channel tends to name storms that may have a big impact. Not back in 1966. But the storm that packed 70 mph winds and dumped several feet of snow in South Dakota had a name: The Northern Plains Blizzard.
The morning of March 2 started with a forecast of perhaps 4 inches of snow. But within a few hours, it was updated to include heavy snow and high winds. Freezing drizzle hit next icing everything up and visibility dropped to near zero. This was not a short-lived storm. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, the storm didn't lift for three days.
Windows were not built to withstand those kinds of winds and pressure like the windows of today. As a result, several windows were blown in leaving snowdrifts in living rooms.
The March 2 - 4 calamity claimed 6 lives and over 100, 000 cattle and sheep were killed. The economic impact was disastrous. It's was estimated that the value of the livestock lost topped $20 million. To put that into perspective, today, with inflation, would amount to a staggering $156 million.
Finally, late in the day on March 4th, the storm finally subsided in South Dakota. But for North Dakota and Minnesota, the blizzard stayed in place continuing to wreak havoc.
You can see the timeline of the blizzard here on the National Weather Service archives. It's a fascinating read.
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