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Blizzard of March 1966

By | Last Modified: October 16, 2018

The Blizzard of 1966 was one of the worst snow storms ever recorded in North Dakota, often earning the nickname “Blizzard of the Century”.

The storm lasted four days, from Wednesday, March 2nd, until Saturday, March 5th. More than a foot of snow fell during the first day, coupled with winds of 65 MPH.

In the end, 22.4 inches of snow officially fell on Bismarck-Mandan – the most from a single storm up to that point, beating the previous record of 19.1 inches in 1894. Higher snowfall amounts were reported across the state – with drifts even higher.

A local meteorologist explained that three low pressure areas merging, two on the surface and one aloft, attributed to the storm’s severity.

At least 5 deaths were recorded due to the storm, and hundreds of cattle lost. The Governor called a State of Emergency, and sent out the National Guard to assist in cleanup efforts.

The storm shuttered government offices, businesses, and, for the first time in more than twenty years, area schools. Even postal service was interrupted. Most streets were impassible and citations were issued to any motorist traveling for non-emergencies.

Three Northern Pacific Locomotives became stuck in the snow just outside the city.

When businesses began to reopen the following day, controversy rang out due to a state blue law preventing stores from opening on Sunday, despite that it was the first time stores could open in days.

The March 1966 snow storm saw the biggest snow total for a single storm in the Bismarck-Mandan region, however March 1966 was not the biggest snow total for a single month, and the 1965-1966 snow season is not the record holder for the most snow in a single season. It was also not the longest blizzard; that honor belongs to the Blizzard of January 1897, which lasted ten days.

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