In 1940, the Weather Bureau had just been transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Commerce, as more emphasis was being placed on forecasting for aviation. District forecast centers still had responsibility for large geographic areas. For example, the Chicago office issued four forecasts per day for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North and South Dakota.
Early on the morning of November 11th they had issued a moderate cold wave warning for Minnesota. It had been drizzling on the 10th with some fog and moderate temperatures in the 40s F. The low pressure system moving toward Wisconsin from the southwest (Texas panhandle and Oklahoma) intensified and winds strengthened. New barometric low pressure records were later established at La Crosse (28.72 inches) at Duluth (28.66 inches), and at the downtown Minneapolis Weather Bureau Office a near-record low pressure of 28.93 inches was reported. Contrast this with a cold high pressure system to the northwest in Canada where the barometric reading was 30.7 inches and it is easy to see why the Armistice Day Blizzard is famous for having such strong winds, wind which averaged over 25 mph for a 24 hour period, and gusted to over 60 mph.
Rain turned to sleet and snow in the late morning on the 11th and worsened to blizzard conditions very rapidly, as snowfall rates approached 3 to 4 inches per hour. The air temperature fell by as much as 40 degrees F over 24 hours and ice as thick as an inch coated poles and phone lines, breaking many of them.
Forty-nine Minnesotans perished, including many duck hunters. Thousands of game birds and a great deal of livestock and poultry were killed as well. Losses to the turkey industry alone exceeded 1/2 million dollars. Snow removal and clean up to clear state highways, as well as county and township roads was estimated to exceed 1/2 million dollars as well.
Total snowfall at Collegeville was 26.6 inches and snow drifts over 20 feet were reported in the Willmar area. This storm and the lethal March 15th blizzard the next spring, prompted Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen and Congressman R. T. Buckler of Crookston to criticize the Weather Bureau for inadequate storm warnings and lack of facilities in the state to provide 24 hour forecasting operations. They wrote letters to Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones asking for support. Soon thereafter Minnesota had a 24 hour forecast office and a larger staff.
From: Mark Seeley
From: Mark Seeley
Re: Suggestions for MPR's Morning Edition, Friday, Nov 10, 2000