From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Accounts of a Bad Nebraska Blizzard

Snowstorm of December 2005


I received this account of the bad blizzard in northern Nebraska just after Thanksgiving from my friend Sammie who lives at Chambers, Nebraska. She wrote the following on Dec. 9, 2005:

We got a heavy rain that turned to snow the Sunday following Thanksgiving. There was a coat of ice on everything here in Holt County (and still is.) We got a blizzard with circulating winds, gusts up to 80 miles per hour. It snapped and twisted trees, big tree limbs, and lots and lots of electric poles. As an example, there were 17 poles broken in the mile and half between the little church down south of here and west over the hill to the highway. The wind blew the heavily iced lines straight out in places.

It was a mess and the weather was too nasty for a couple of days to do anything about it. We didn't have electric for four nights and five days. Fortunately we have a wood stove so had heat and something to cook on. I had saved lots of water when I saw it raining, and I always stock up on food in the winter. I was trained well about all that growing up "way out in the boonies." Some people west of Highway 11 had no electric for over a week.

We had [crews from] power plants from all over the state and a couple of neighboring states that helped. Thank God for all their help and the neighbors pulled together too. Ricky [Sammie's husband] used his big tractor to open paths through the huge hard drifts so they could get to the broken poles. Even out across pastures.

We all don't remember a three to four day blizzard with all the ice like that before. And hope to never seen one again. It was really hard on the cattle to go without food and especially water for so long. Several were lost through the storm...

My poor American elm has really suffered. It came in a covered wagon from Illinois in the 1880's with the White family.

And from my dad's Aunt Goldie Davis who lives in Ainsworth, Nebraska, who wrote on December 5, 2005:

Yes, we have been having real winter. The blizzard the last of November was a doozy, wind gusts to 70 miles per hour with the snow all piled into drifts 10 to 12 feet deep so everything was blocked for two days and some digging out being done yet. There was quite a loss of livestock. One granddaughter's lost 13 head. They drifted into a lake. We heard that some of the Hollenbecks down by Bassett lost over 100 head.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.