I recently saw the Maxwell Anderson play “White Desert”, set in eastern North Dakota during the Great Blizzard of March 11-14, 1888. What is the meteorological story of this blizzard.
The March 11-14, 1888 blizzard was one of the most devasting Nor’easters in U.S. weather history. It dropped more than 40 inches of snow, paralyzing the Northeast with drifts up to 50 feet and was responsible for more than 400 fatalities. It appears that Anderson took dramatic license as this blizzard did not affect the Dakotas where temperatures actually climbed into the 40s during this period. However, two months earlier, that area was hit by a surprise blizzard, dubbed the Children’s Blizzard. The storm caused more than 500 fatalities that included more than 200 school children, as 60 mph winds delivered whiteout conditions and rapidly plunging temperatures.