65th Anniversary of the Blizzard of 1949
January 2, 2014 will mark the 65th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1949 - a storm that today still reminds Nebraskans to be prepared before the winter storm strikes. The historic blizzard hit from January 2nd to the 4th, and was the first winter storm of the year to dump over two feet of snow for some locales. Blizzard impacts were found across four states and in Nebraska. The blizzard caused thousands of head of livestock lost, and the ones which survived some had to be shoveled out. The storm closed roadways and rails, which included Union Pacific Railroad’s main line that was closed for seven weeks (www.up.com).
Winter storms are considered the deceptive killers. Blizzards produce strong winds that can reach 35 miles per hour or higher. The Blizzard of 1949 produced winds of 50 to 60 mph that created snow drifts over 35 feet. In Brule Nebraska, snow drifts reached an estimated 20 feet at one farmstead. At the Happy Jacks Convenience Store in Brule, the old timers still remember the storm well. “Anytime a big winter storm is brewing, folks will call for home heating fuel, quickly adding that it could be as bad as the ’49 storm” said Wade Hill, an employee at Happy Jacks. In North Platte, the Weather Service recorded a three day storm snow total of 16.5 inches in town and 15.4 inches at Lee Bird Field.
The Blizzard of 1949 still remains one of the worst blizzards on record in Nebraska. Through joint efforts in humanitarian missions, lives and livestock were saved through “Operation Haylift” and “Operation Snowbound”. For many areas, it took planes to deliver critical supplies to remote towns.
Today blizzard impacts continue, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, continue to work with partners toward a Weather-Ready Nation. A country prepared to protect, mitigate, respond to and recover from weather-related disasters.