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75 Years Ago, The Killer Armistice Day Blizzard Struck

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Today marks 75 years since the Armistice Day Blizzard, which hit Minnesota on November 11, 1940. It was one of the largest, most destructive blizzards on record, it stranded hunters on the Mississippi River and was blamed for upwards of 150 deaths across the Upper Midwest.

According to WeatherNation Affiliate KARE 11: It is history, in the case of the Armistice Day blizzard, no one ever wishes to repeat.

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“It was nice in the morning and boy did it get bad in the afternoon,” 84-year-old Arlene Dahlstrom said Thursday remembering the storm.

Seventy years ago today, Minnesota and the entire Midwest woke up to a day that would be unforgettable not for how it began, with temperatures in the 60s, but how it would end.

“We’ve never seen snow like that before,” Dahlstrom said. Dahlstrom lived in Marietta Minnesota, near the South Dakota border, when the Armistice Day blizzard tore through the Midwest and she remembers the cold and the horror.

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The storm came fast, an inland hurricane, the gusts were called the winds of hell.

Florence Leefeldt was at home, in Buffalo County, Wisconsin.She was 14-years-old and recalls her dad went out for a duck hunt in the morning. She said when the storm hit, her father ran back out into the river bottoms because he knew hunters would be trapped. “They had seen hunters out there in city outfits; you know sport clothes in the morning so they knew they were out there and none of em knew their way back,” Leefeldt said.

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The tales of the Armistice Day hunters are stuff of terrifying legend now, and they haunt Florence to this day. Because her father left the house, in the storm, in an effort to rescue the hunters still in the woods. “The wagon was the only thing they could get em with. The horses. There were about 8 of em,” Leefeldt said in tears.

Florence said her father was able to get those eight men out but we know now, statewide, other hunters died. At least a dozen. Stuck in duck blinds, river bottoms, blinded by a blizzard that showed no mercy.

(Images: Minnesota Historical Society)

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