Published March 31 2014
Forum editorial: A spring blizzard is commonThe March lion/April lamb lore is baloney on the Northern Plains. The residents of the Dakotas and northern Minnesota won’t see much of the spring lamb until (maybe) mid-April but more likely in May. Even then the lamb probably will be a grizzled sheep, its wool matted down by cold rain and its disposition soured by the interminably long wait for warm weather.
Therefore, the April blizzard that is pummeling the region should be no surprise. The record shows an early spring winter-like storm is as common here as jackrabbits on the prairie. Indeed, some of the biggest, most memorable blizzards on record visited the region in April.
The roughest April storm in recent memory hit the region the first weekend of April 1997. That was the year (until 2009) of a record Red River Valley flood. The storm started as warm rain, cooled to freezing rain, and by nightfall was a blizzard – snow, wind, falling temperatures – the whole package. And it came just as the Red River was cresting and communities were fighting to keep the river in its banks. Fargo’s flood fight was successful that year. Grand Forks lost the fight.
Other springs have brought blizzards. A three-day storm in 1966, for example, set snowfall records in some parts of North Dakota and Minnesota that still stand.
So, today’s storm, which is proving to be of varying intensity across the region, is not an anomaly. It’s a typical Northern Plains spring weather phenomenon. That fact doesn’t make it any more welcome. And after the long winter, the people of the region surely could have done without the storm. But it is what it is.
Hope against hope? That this blizzard puts a period on winter. That this blizzard blows itself out, and real spring weather melts away memories of a long winter.
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