A fast-moving and severe blizzard hits North Dakota and Minnesota, killing 151 people, on this day in 1941. Weather forecasting and reporting made important advances following this disaster that would have prevented the loss of life that occurred due to the sudden storm.
The people of North Dakota and northern Minnesota had nearly no warning of the blizzard that swept in suddenly from the west on March 15. In some locations, temperatures dropped 20 degrees in less than 15 minutes. Fifty-mile-per-hour sustained winds (with gusts reaching 85 mph in Grand Forks and 75 mph in Duluth) brought blinding snow and huge 7-foot-high snow drifts across the states.
Most of the victims of the blizzard were traveling in their cars when it hit. Highway 2, running from Duluth, Minnesota, to North Dakota, was shut down, as were Highways 75 and 81. Attempts to rescue those stranded in their cars came too late. In one incident, six-year-old Wilbert Treichel died from exposure to the cold as his parents attempted to carry him through the blizzard to safety.