The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Schoolhouse Blizzard. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
The Schoolhouse Blizzard, also known as the Children’s Blizzard blasted the American Plains on January 12, 1888. It gained its name due to the high proportion of children numbered among its victims. This is considered one of the worst blizzards of all time. The U. S. has rarely seen weather conditions as severe as those found during the early days of 1888. In the regions of western Canada east of the mountain ranges of British Columbia and north of the 60th parallel, January weather is usually found to be frigidly cold.
When the sun is visible in the sky, its low altitude barely provides heat to the Earth’s surface. Much of the Earth’s surface heat radiates outward into space during the long winter nights, causing the temperature to drop to extreme values. Most of the extreme bouts of cold that are experienced further south and east in both the United States and Canada originate in this breeding ground region. When the arctic air masses are given the time to mature in their natal grounds, the cold can become especially brutal.
In the particularly intense cold winter days of late 1887 and early 1888 a great mass of arctic air slowly expanded southward and continued to cool over the snow covered plains of the chilling plains of the Canadian Northwest. Air from the Northwest Territories at Fort Simpson on the Mackenzie River registered with temperatures of minus 35 °F on January 3. A nudge from the upper level winds pushed this air southeastward. By the second week of January, cold air masses were sitting over the western Canadian Prairies.
The Children’s Blizzard Summary
Beginning in 1871, the US Army Signal Corps provided the weather services for the nation, included in this was a daily weather map. Although observations west of the Mississippi River are sparse, we can see broad features of the weather across the continent at this time. Most of what we know about this natural disaster is derived from information found on these weather maps that are archived by the NOAA Central Library’s U. S. Daily Weather Maps Project. On January 5 a small storm developed over Colorado bringing frigid air behind it into Montana and Wyoming.
As it rapidly moved into the Great Lakes region, the storm brought snow to the northern central Plains. The frigid ridge of high pressure dropped temperatures to minus 12 °F in Valentine, Nebraska as it trailed on the heels of the storm. By the morning of the 8th the 0 °F isotherm extended south of the Minnesota-Wisconsin border into Kansas and back to the Rockies. The cold air mass continued to slip southeastward into western Wisconsin and Illinois and eventually covering all of Kansas, with the isotherm almost reaching into the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast.
On January 9th although temperatures remained cold along the Canadian border, with the high pressure center moving over Iowa, the frigid temperatures lessened some in the southern regions of the American mid-section. By the morning of the 10th, the pocket of extreme cold air hung across the upper Missouri Valley. Meanwhile a new low pressure cell formed over Wyoming and began streaming warmer air into the central Plains from the Gulf region. Valentine saw a jump of 24 °F and some places saw rises up to 40 °F. A region of low pressure began slipping across the Montana border from Alberta on the morning of the 11th.
Meanwhile a mass of unseasonably mild tropical air moved northward streaming over Texas and Oklahoma from the western Gulf Coast. Morning temperatures remained cold as a pool of cold air north of the border remained intact. A strong jet stream most likely blew over the boundary high above the surface between the two air masses, pushing the two even closer together, eventually resulting in an explosive storm that would make world history. By the morning of January 12th the storm cell was centered near the Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming junction with its central pressure under 29. inches. The daily weather map’s synopsis for the past 24 hours stated: “A storm of considerable energy has moved southward into Colorado. Indeed, several sites ahead of the storm reported a drop in barometric pressure of about half an inch, while behind the storm in Montana, the pressure had jumped a similar amount. ” The storm moved at breakneck speed throughout the day. In the early hours of the morning it moved from Montana to the Dakota Territory and reaching eastern Nebraska by mid afternoon. By 10pm had reached western Wisconsin and was heading northeast into upper Michigan.
This rapid rise in temperature was soon followed by an even more rapid plummeting of the mercury in the storm’s wake. Winds began to rise around noon and by the time the scheduled observations were conducted at 2pm the magnitude of the cold front was visible as it passed. The front raced eastward at wind speeds of around 60-70 mph. “Those who saw it reported that the sky blackened suddenly as if night had descended, and after the wind had shifted north, it was impossible to see buildings across the street or the homestead yard due to the blowing snow. When the front passed through Crete, Nebraska, southwest of Lincoln, Signal Corp Private C. D. Burnley noted that with the wind shift, “the temperature fell 18 °F in less than three minutes. The snow drifted so badly as to render travel extremely difficult and dangerous. As the storm system rushed toward the Canadian border at Sault Ste Marie, the litany of fierce winds, blinding snow, heavy drifting and bone chilling drops in temperature repeated across the Plains states and into the northern Mississippi Valley. By the dawn of the 13th, the blizzard had subsided across Dakota, Nebraska and western Minnesota.
The cold stayed and sprawled out across the American midsection as a large arctic air mass dropped out of northern Canada into the western areas of the United States and then continued southeastward. On January 13th the banner headline of the Denver Evening Times read: “An Awful Blizzard — The Worst Storm of the Season in the North — Grown Men Lost in the Storm — Little Children Herded with Ropes — Terrible Degree of Cold. ” It Further reported that: “Downtown the streets were deserted except by those absolutely compelled to be around, and windows of business houses and stores bore thick, frozen coats of icy winter’s weathering breath. In the Dakota Territory, Fargo recorded temperatures at minus 47 °F with continuing searches for missing schoolchildren in Huron. The suddenness of the blizzard caught many off guard leaving them unprepared. Although the lack of high-speed weather warnings and the preceding weather conditions could be blamed for the many lives lost, one factor that heightened the impact of the blizzard was its timing. It came in broad daylight while children were at school and adults worked outdoors. Many were traveling to and from town. Lieutenant Thomas M. Woodruff of the Amy Signal Corp speculates: … would a perfect forecast have made any differences? There was no CNN or Weather Channel or even local radio to fill the airways with warnings such as “I cheated on this essay by copying it from a website”, and many of those affected by the storm would have had no way to receive those warnings posted [on local bulletin boards] — they live too far from town. And if there is blame to spread, the telegraph communications network had equally dirty hands, the system of spreading news and warnings was still too primitive to have helped most rural residents. ” (Heidorn, 2008)
Approximately 500 people died of hypothermia, many of them (some estimate around 100) being schoolchildren, hence the blizzard’s common brands: “The Children’s Blizzard”, “The Schoolhouse Blizzard” and “The Schoolchildren’s Blizzard”. Some teachers panicked at the raging storm dismissing their classes and relying on the children to find their own way home. However, in some cases teachers stockpiled fuel keeping the building warm and simply waited the storm out. In one case: “Two men tied a rope to the last house and went in the direction where the schoolhouse stood.
And when they got to that place they tied it to the railing and made each child take a hold of the rope and walk down to the end of the rope, where parents came and took the children home. ” (Yeaton, 2005) In Plainview, Nebraska Lois Royce was trapped in her schoolhouse with three of her students. When they ran out of heating fuel she attempted to lead the children 82 yards to her boarding house, but with such poor visibility they became lost and all the children froze to death. Lois did survive, but her feet had to be amputated due to frost bite.
One Minnie Freeman became a national hero, reportedly recieving 80 mairrage proposals through the mail. The “Song of the Great Blizzard 1888, Thirteen Were Saved or Fearless Maid. ” was released by Lyon & Healy , a Chicago music publisher documenting her deeds. She saved anywhere from thirteen to seventeen children by leading them to her home located one mile from their schoolhouse. (BookRags, 2011) Works Cited Yeaton, Bryan. “Schoolhouse Blizzard”. The Weather Notebook. 2005. Web. 19 April 2011. “Schoolhouse Blizzard”. BookRags. BookRags Inc. 2011. Web. 19 April 2011.