This column ran in the Dec. 29 edition of the Prairie Post
We survived a blizzard this past week. Another chance for Mother Nature to assert her dominance over mere man. This one dumped a lot of snow at a most inopportune time, disrupting the holiday plans of thousands of people.
This was not the first time the Christmas holiday has been disrupted by a snow storm. The book, Century of Stories, talks about the Christmas Blizzard of 1935. Maybe every 74 years we get a storm on Christmas Eve.
The 1935 Christmas Blizzard lasted just 24 hours, but that was long enough to cause at least one death in Stutsman County.
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Antonwitch were doing some last minute Christmas Eve shopping at Fried when the storm started blowing in during the afternoon. They headed home in a horse drawn sled even as the storm was building in strength. Before long even the horses became disoriented and lost.
Paul Antonwitch stopped and unhitched the team before turning the sleigh box over. He and his wife then crawled under the box to ride out the storm in its meager shelter.
Even though the storm lasted only about 24 hours it was devastating. Sometime during Christmas Eve night or early Christmas Day morning Paul Antonwitch died of exposure.
For whatever reason, his wife fared better. On Christmas Day afternoon, as the weather cleared, she crawled out from under the wagon box. Unable to stand she crawled on her hands and knees to a nearby farmhouse.
Mrs. Antonwitch survived the storm although she was hospitalized from Christmas until Easter.
The Christmas Blizzard of 1935 was the beginning of a serious stretch of rough weather for the Northern Plains.
February of 1936, just a month or so after the Christmas Blizzard, temperatures dropped to record lows with 58 degrees below zero recorded in Jamestown. The North Dakota record low of 61 degrees below was set at Steele during that cold snap.
And within a few months the record cold was replaced with record heat. The hottest temperatures ever recorded in North Dakota occurred in the summer of 1936.
This reinforces the basic premise of North Dakota weather. If you don’t like the conditions just stick around for awhile, it will change.