WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 25, 2011, 10:03 AM

Upcoming storm is similar to a famous blizzard from the 1880's

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - 123-years ago, a blizzard killed hundreds of children on the prairie. The weather this weekend could be similar to that memorable storm, but modern forecasting tools usually give us plenty of warning before a winter storm or blizzard hits. Stormtracker Meteorologist Rob Kupec takes a look a famous storm from the 1880's.

It's rare for a blizzard to sneak up on us anymore. All week we've been keeping and eye on a weather system for Friday that is in some ways reminiscent of the great Children's Blizzard of 1888 which arrived in the afternoon trapping children at school and killing hundreds as they tried to make their way home on a snowy afternoon.

On January 12th of 1888, after a week of brutally cold weather with temperatures 30 to 40 below zero, residents of Fargo-Moorhead awoke to temperatures in the teens above zero. In southern Minnesota, it rose into the low 50's. Just before one in the afternoon, the Moorhead weather observer wrote: "Sudden and fierce change of wind from south to north, then heavy blinding snow.”

This storm coming up this week similar in many ways to Monday, but I think it will come in later in the day. Very nice and peaceful with very little wind in the morning and then there is this high wind potential

The Children's Blizzard is well documented in the book by David Lakins, which Scott Olsen's English Class at Concordia just finished reading.

“The book does show one of the kinds of storms that define who we are in this area. We own the cold stories. We own the blizzard stories. You say you’re from Minnesota, North Dakota to anyone in any other part of the world; they will visibly shake and shiver in front of you.”

“It talks about how his eyes freeze over and he can't see and he's scraping ice off of his eye the whole time. You know it something that you can definitely see happening really easily.”

The Blizzard of 1888 is reminder of the tough life the pioneers had and how deadly winter weather can be in the upper Midwest. Right now, the wind and temperature drop expected Friday are not looking as anywhere near as dramatic as they were that afternoon in 1888.