Some of America's most extreme weather occurred in 1935 and 1936. In fact, most of the decades records happened in these two years. Forty percent of the states recorded the lowest yearly precipitation on record, eleven states recorded the lowest one day temperature, while twenty-six states recorded the their highest one day temperatures.

In the Spring of 1935, the "Dust Bowl," was taking place in much of the Great Plains.  The affected areas were from Colorado to Kansas, to Oklahoma.  Sixty mile an hour winds caused dust storms.  These unusual weather conditions were happening during the "Depression Era" when economic conditions were taking a terrible toll on America.

*On Labor Day weekend, 1935, the strongest hurricane in history to strike the U.S. made landfall in the Florida Keys. An incredible barometric pressure of 26.35, a record that has not been broken, accompanied the hurricane.  The winds were estimated at 200 mile per hour. 

All across the northern section of the country, winter brought bitter cold temperatures.  New record snowfalls were recorded.  Missoula, Montana had a February total snowfall of 43 inches.  The West Coast experienced extreme rainfall.  Record cold temperature was registered in Great Fall, Montana with a minus 49 degrees.  Fargo, North Dakota remained below zero for thirty-seven straight days. 

Following the record snowfalls and cold temperatures, Spring 1936 brought severe flooding in the Middle Atlantic, Ohio Valley, and Northeast.  The floods caused 270 million dollars of damage, and the lives of 107 people. 

Mother Nature wasn't finished yet.  The tornado season started in April, 1936.  Seventeen tornados blew through northern Mississippi, Tennessee, northern Alabama, and Georgia.  Four hundred and forty-six people were killed in rare nocturnal tornados.

It was a very hot summer!  Some of the cities that recorded record highs were Minneapolis, Minnesota-108 degrees, Fargo North Dakota -114 degrees, Fort Smith Arkansas - 115 degrees, Tulsa, Oklahoma - 117 degrees.  On August 18, 1936, Iowa had its hottest ever August day with the average high temperature for 113 reporting stations of 106.5 degree.  The summer heat was so intolerable, that many families slept outside at night to escape the heat of their houses.*   

The following three photographs were taken in Humboldt County.  They provide a visual example of the amount of snow that fell during "1936 Blizzard."

Rutland men shoveling snow.


February 6, 1936 - severe blizzard conditions over all of Iowa were the toughest in modern history.

Blizzard - February 8-10, 1936 - Statewide.  Heavy snow and strong winds caused severe drifting.

Mrs. Tuttle and Mrs. Ruse pictured on a road near Livermore 











Photo of Gilmore City





Lake Park Iowa:


On February 6, 1936, a two-day blizzard stopped all activity in the region.  Temperatures dropped to minus 25 and the train was held up in Worthington for nine days.  The plows on the trains had to barrel through the drifts at 35 to 40 miles per hour to get through.  the depot had to board up windows to prevent them from breaking when the trains blew through.

Pierson Iowa:

Winter of 1936 -  A blizzard struck Pierson and the area February, tying up traffic and isolating the town. There was no relief in sight of this snow and high winds for days to follow.  It filled up cuts and produced huge drifts that blocked roads and even had the railroad at a halt.  This cause depleted supplies and many families had to risk walking into town to get needed supplies that may or may not be available.  Schools were shut down indefinitely and shoveling produced snow piles ten to twelve feet high in front of businesses.

The mail carrier could not deliver mail with horse and wagon due to the high drifting and did his route on foot.   Doctors couldn't get to ill patient and the farmers  had to organize to drive in shifts to get the doctors around.  It took thirty-eight men and twenty horses to go eight miles in the blizzard. The horses and men  simply got mired down trying to get through this harsh condition. 


One of our family stories was of my father having to walk from highway 169 to Livermore on snow drifts that were as high at the telephone lines.  I always questioned his story, until I saw the following picture which confirmed the story. 


Photo taken in Ames, Iowa

*Source Information : Intellicast Almanac