Iowa History Daily: November 11 - The Armistice Day Blizzard

Iowa History Daily: On November 11, 1940, the infamous Armistice Day Blizzard rocked the upper-Midwest as snowfall totals in excess of 2’ created up to 20 ft. deep drifts as winds ripped between 50 and 80 miles per hour. Across the Midwest over 150 people died, while livestock and wildlife populations suffered losses in the thousands.

As the Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) approached, Iowans continued to appreciate a milder than average fall. However, a massive storm system swept eastward across the Rockies as unsuspecting hunters ventured to favorite duck shooting spots to take advantage of ideal conditions. From duck boats throughout the upper-Midwest hunters marveled as incredible numbers of birds flew before the storm.

With temperatures throughout the state reaching the 50s during the early part of the day, many hunters did not adequately prepare for the storm which forecasters predicted would be minor. As winds rose rain started to pelt down before turning into heavy snow. With visibility at 0 and high winds, rivers including the Mississippi became raging seas with swells reaching up to 15’. Many hunters drowned, others froze to death, and a lucky few rode out the storms on channel islands with only lost hands and feet after severe frostbite set in.

The storm also impacted Iowa’s agricultural industry significantly. A major fruit growing state up to 1940, the storm destroyed Iowa’s nationally prominent apple industry when icy winds destroyed entire orchards. Many farmers chose to focus forward on commodity grains like corn and soybeans over replanting a slow-growing orchard. Livestock also suffered in the storm, and many farmers reported significant losses. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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