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On the Porch

One of the United States’ worst blizzards earned many names: The Great Storm of 1975, the Super Bowl Blizzard, the Tornado Outbreak of 1975, and Storm of the Century (as it was known in Minnesota). By definition, a blizzard isn’t simply a heavy snowstorm. Blizzards must also meet the criteria of strong, sustained winds (35 mph or more), reduced visibility (whiteouts), and a length of over three hours. The Super Bowl Blizzard of 1975 met all those requirements. The blizzard affected much of the Midwest and Southeastern states. The intense weather phenomenon started on Jan. 9 and lasted through Jan. 12.

The storm produced 45 tornadoes in the Southeast, resulting in 12 fatalities, while later dropping over 2 feet of snow and killing 58 people in the Midwest. Over 100,000 livestock were killed. The storm originated over the Pacific Ocean. By Jan. 9, it had cleared the Rocky Mountains and began to redevelop and strengthen. At the same time, Arctic air was being drawn southward from Canada into the Great Plains, and large amounts of warm tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico were being pulled northward into much of the eastern U.S. The storm was a classic Panhandle Hook which moved from Colorado into Oklahoma before turning northward towards the Upper Midwest. It produced record low barometric pressure readings in the Midwest, with the pressure falling to an estimated 28.38 in just north of the Minnesota border in Canada.

By the time Super Bowl Sunday rolled around on Jan. 12, the storm sputtered its last gasps upon Georgia and Florida. Much of the country found themselves dealing with the blizzard as the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers went head to head at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

LCHS has in its collection, a booklet of newspaper clippings from the 1975 blizzard, which was compiled by Sheldon Steele. On the 2nd page, Sheldon typed his experience of the blizzard: “Farmed between Hendricks and Ivanhoe. Had two semi-loads cattle to go out Thursday. Dennis P. said was too risky. Sunday morning I walked on cattle on the hillside covered with snow. Pushed one steer over with my hand. Uncle brought kids out to help feed as feed bunk was twisted. Larry Sterizering from Ivanhoe scooped, pushed snow for eleven hours with pay loader and bulldozer.”

The 7th annual indoor Christmas Tree Walk and the Heritage Room Christmas Display featuring over 60 nativity scenes are on view at the museum through New Years’ Eve. The Lyon County Historical Society is a non-profit, member-supported organization. For more information on membership, research, volunteering, or the museum’s collection, please contact us at 537-6580 or director@lyoncomuseum.org.

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