October 3, 2012

Author's Notes: Snow - Already?

     We just heard that North Dakota is under a winter storm watch this evening (Oct. 3). Already?  I just put away my summer things!  Still, even though this is a little early even by midwest standards, it's time to start thinking about hot chocolate, warm sweaters and a crackling blaze in the fireplace.

      In Big Stone Heart, our heroine, Carrie Smith, encounters a typical midwestern blizzard: huge snowdrifts, blowing snow and subzero temperatures - a lethal combination.  Carrie survives in the book, but every winter here in the midwest, others do not. With every storm comes news of frostbite, exposure and even death.

One of the most tragic blizzards in our part of the world occurred in 1888, the so-called "Children's Blizzard" or the "Schoolhouse Blizzard".  There were 235 deaths, many of them children.  The day started warm and balmy.  Children went to school or took advantage of the fine weather to be out-of-doors.  Without warning, for there was no radio or television, a storm hit fast and furious. Some children were sent home from school, a tragic mistake, for they were trapped in the storm without shelter or winter clothing.  Others stayed in the schoolhouse with their teacher and survived. Even today, it's a heartbreaking story.

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