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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published April 18 2013

Weather Talk: A look back at another ‘Long Winter,’ 1880-81

The record for the latest 50-degree high temperature, which we broke this week, was previously set in 1881. Although snowfall and snow depth records were not kept that year locally, based on the melted precipitation and the temperatures, it is likely the winter snow cover persisted into April that year.

If you’ve read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “The Long Winter,” you are perhaps unknowingly familiar with the spring of 1881, as the winter she described took place in 1880-81. In the book she tells of a warm-up finally coming in April. That warm-up melted the huge snowdrifts blocking the trains from getting into South Dakota, which allowed the Ingalls family to finally have their Christmas turkey in May.

Fargo-Moorhead also recorded a shift in temperatures from the 30s to the 70s in a span of 10 days that quickly melted the snow in April 1881.

Our past winter was far less severe, but this snow season did start in early October and is still on going in April, just like the winter described in the book.


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