Author: Mary Knapp

While we’ve enjoyed a mild start to January this year, two of the worst blizzards in Kansas history in terms of death and property loss occurred in mid-January. The first was on January 13, 1886. That blizzard struck without warning after a fairly mild start to the year. Between 50 and 100 people died in Kansas. The total fatalities are uncertain due to poor records and sparse population at the time. In addition, up to 80 percent of the cattle in the state also perished. In 1888, a broader system affected the entire High Plains. An intense cold front plunged from the Dakotas to Texas in just 24 hours. More than 200 people died in the storm, with the actual death toll uncertain, again due to poor records and sparse populations. Huge snow drifts and subzero temperatures killed tens of thousands of cattle. That was just the start of the extreme winter that year.

Figure 1. Surface Map of developing low January 12, 1888 (NWS)

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library