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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published February 12 2013

Weather Talk: Deadly ‘Black Dust Blizzard’ hit area 90 years ago today

It was 90 years ago today that one of the worst blizzards in modern times was moving through the region. It started as a weak Alberta Clipper that moved along the Rocky Mountains, re-formed in Colorado and moved northeast into Minnesota.

The blizzard started late in the day on Feb. 12 and was at peak intensity in this area the next day. Although Fargo had a recorded snow depth of 7 inches, many other areas nearby had little to no snow cover. The fierce wind in excess of 50 mph picked up dirt and mixed it in with the snow. The storm became known as the “Black Dust Blizzard” because of the black snow (snirt) that was spread well east into Minnesota and Wisconsin from the exposed soils in North Dakota.

Sadly, at least 20 deaths were blamed on the blizzard in this area alone. Most died of exposure, caught off guard by the rapidly changing conditions and bitterly cold temperatures that moved in with the storm.

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