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Think this winter was bad?

In March of 1971, a blizzard snowed-in 200 people who were in Alexandria for a wrestling tournament and covered this home on east Lobster Lake.1 / 2
The blizzard of January 1975 was noted as the "most severe of the 20th century." Plows worked to clear this stretch on East Lake Darling.2 / 2
News Alexandria,Minnesota 56308 http://www.echopress.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/8/0824/nblizzardmarch31971.jpg?itok=owM7KDGM
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Think this winter was bad?
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Finally, the snow is beginning to melt and we're on the home stretch - spring officially starts Sunday.

However, there's always that chance of a March blizzard blowing in to top off a really, really long winter.

What a winter it's been - frigid sub-zero temperatures, snowstorm after snowstorm and relentless bone-chilling wind.

But that's nothing.

Imagine 20-foot snowdrifts, wicked wind chills and dozens of blizzard-related deaths.

Douglas County's history of blizzards was first recorded on January 7, 1873, and through the years, the most notable snowstorms have been documented.

Through newspaper clippings and first-hand accounts found at the Douglas County Historical Society, here's a collection of some of the most memorable snowstorms and blizzards that have whipped through the county:

January 7, 1873

Called "The Blizzard of '73," this storm hit the western and southern half of the state the hardest, causing 70 deaths.

October 15, 1880

The "Winter of Deep Snow" started off with an October blizzard that caused at least six deaths, probably more that were not reported. There were also considerable losses in livestock. The storm affected the entire Upper Midwest. High winds reportedly damaged Great Lakes ships and on Lake Michigan, the winds sank a steamer ship, the Galena, and all on board.

March 23 and 30, 1882

The March blizzards arrived just a week apart and blocked railroads and killed several people.

December 3, 1896

This blizzard was labeled, "One of the worst storms ever known." Trains were snowbound, telegraph lines were down and traffic was suspended. Several people were found frozen to death. The temperature reportedly dropped from 5-degrees to 25-degrees below zero in a brief period. Snow drifts reached 15-feet tall.

March 21, 1902

The worst snowstorm in 10 years was reported in the Evansville Enterprise. Railways were at a standstill for three days.

February 13, 1923

It was noted that George Becker recalled a snowstorm that forced a sow to take refuge in a straw pile at the Trisko farm, near Belle River Church. The family discovered the sow and her littler of pigs a month later. The piglets were fine, but the sow was very skinny.

November 11, 1940

The Armistice Day Blizzard was a storm that "came up with no warning" and caused 48 deaths in the region, most were duck hunters unprepared for the sudden blizzard.

March 15, 1941

Another "sudden blizzard" blasted the region. There were reports that "you could hardly see your hand in front of your face." Snowdrifts were estimated to tower at 22-feet across some roads. Horses and a sleigh were reportedly the best way to get to town.

March 16, 1965

The Osakis Review reported 13 inches of snow with 50 mile-per-hour winds that forced schools to close. The editor wrote: "The only bright spot of the storm is that the calendar says next Saturday is spring - it can't snow forever, or can it?"

March 23, 1965

The Park Region Echo reported a snowstorm that dumped 15 inches of snow over three days. It was reported: "In appreciation of the work done by city street crews, the Chamber of Commerce treated crew members to a dinner Friday."

March 3, 1971

A blizzard snowed in about 200 people who were in town for a Region 6 wrestling tournament. People bedded down in the high school gym, and local hotels and motels reported they were at capacity.

January 10-12, 1975

According to newspaper accounts, this blizzard was the "most severe of the 20th century." The storm dropped 25 inches of snow with 70 mile per hour winds in the Alexandria area. One person was killed, cattle were found frozen, cars were buried, power lines were downed and there were "mountains of drifts" left behind. After the station was knocked off-air during the storm, KCMT-TV finally began broadcasting during the first quarter of the Super Bowl game. Just in time to add insult to injury, snowbound residents watched the Vikings defeated for the Super Bowl title.

March 4, 1985

According to the Osakis Review, for the first time Newman Olson could remember, the First National Bank of Osakis closed for a day due to bad weather. The storm dropped 18 inches of snow.

January 19, 1996

A blizzard left behind 12 inches of snow, but the brutal part of that storm was the temperature - the low temp bottomed out at 10 below zero and the wind chill was documented at 70 below zero.

January 3-5, 9-10 and 15-16, 1997

Three blizzards hit the area in 12 days: January 3-5 dropped 24 inches of snow; the January 9-10 storm brought 3 inches of snow and 60 mile per hour winds; and during January 15-16, a ground blizzard arrived with wind chills plummeting to 75 degrees below zero and forcing the closure of Interstate-94 for the seventh time that winter.

April 25, 2008

A snowstorm postponed proms for students at Jefferson High School, Brandon High School, Lakes Area Charter School and West Central Area. On average, the region picked up 5 to 15 inches of snow in that storm.

Amy Chaffins
Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.
(320) 763-3133
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