Death on the Prairies: The Murderous Blizzard of 1888

On January 12, 1888, the weather in the west was mild, compared to previous weeks. Little did the people know that a massive cold front was in route and would be catastrophic to the people, their livestock, and the economy in the dekota and nebraska praries. The cold front would cause one of the worst blizzards for the region, killing close to 500 people. The factors that made the death toll so high involve the mild weather before the storm, the lack of technology for warning systems, and bad timing.

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On the day of January 12, farmers and children from all over the nebraska territory believed that that day was going to be warm and enjoyable compared to the previous days. From the early morning, farmers were up carrying out chores and duties that were post poned due to the weather. They were all very confident that the day would be a glorious day, wearing nothing but mere under clothing. Children rushed to schools that were miles away without jackets, gloves, or scarves. As famers were working miles away at distant farms and praries watering crops or tending to livestock, they would have little to no warning for what was to come that afternoon. Around mid day, the mild sky would so suddenly turn into.a nightmare, cathing all in the vast area extremely off guard. with the wicked winds and ice crystals rolling in, victoms had no time to react. If only those individuals had been fore warned, the death toll would be at a guarenteed low.

During this time, technology was on a ris; however, it was very limited in certain areas. Meterology was one of the fields that due to technology and common interest, was not a major concern. The only method of long distance communication was via telegraph machines. They traveled through wires that ran along side railroag tracks. Most of the people that were affected from this storm were those living there to farm crops and raise livestock. They were usually located quite a far distance from towns that contained buildings receiving these transmissions. I believe that the lack of technology and concern for warning the people of the nebraska and dekota territory is a major contributor the the high death toll that resulted from the school childrens storm.

The biggest factor in the high death toll of the blizzard of 1888 has to be the horrible timing at which it occured. The time was mid afternoon, just when farmers are working the hardest, when school children are trickling out of their classrooms, far distances from their homes. It couldnt have been a worse time, especially for the children. Being sent home by their teachers, school children began walking the routes that they would walk everyday. That day the cold front was rushing through bringing ice and snow along with it. The children, wearing nothing but mere under clothing, had no way to keep warm from the ferocious cold. restricted from sight, they were quickly disoriented from their path to home or shelter. After noticing that they had been walking in circles or in opposiyte directions of their destinations, they began to seek out any for of stability, clinging to barbed wire fences, hay barrels, and anything else that provided some sense of security. However, the snow would only come faster and stronger, burrying alive most of the children. The farmer that were in the middle of their duties had been traveling for years. They too would experiece the same fate as their children on the way home from school. Caught in the middle of the blizzard with no jackets or gloves, eventually burried alive from snow and ice. The timing couldnt have been any worse for those caught in the blizzard in the vast dekota praries.

The unfortunate disaster that struck those particular areas of the west will forever be remembered. Because of situations like the blizzard of 1888, peoples interests in meterology and concern for what is around the corner were suddenlt on the rise. Thanks to advancments in technology, we now have a better understanding of moter nature and can now know in advance the possibility of these disasters. The death toll on the day of January 12 was much greater than it shoouldve been; however, lack of warning and simply bad tining would contribute to one of the worst natural disasters of that time.

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