The Winter of 1996-97
Mention the winter of ’96 - ’97 to anyone who was here, and they likely have a story to tell. The brutal season brought blizzard after blizzard, making it one of the snowiest winters in state history. Fargo received over 117 inches of snow, well above the average of 47.
Just days after a two-day blizzard that dumped two to thirteen inches of snow, another storm blanketed the state on this date in 1996. While technically not a blizzard, the storm had plenty of snow but little wind. Grand Forks got seven inches, and over six inches fell in Fargo. Northern North Dakota was hit the hardest, with eleven to nineteen inches falling from Fortuna to the Turtle Mountains.
Along with another system later in the month, North Dakota that November received up to three feet of snow in places like Grant and Burleigh counties. Most of the state averaged about 15 inches. With more on the way, that winter proved to be long, cold and uncommonly brutal. Despite the high volume of snow, the moisture equaled less than three inches of rain.
Ten blizzards hit the state from November to April, including a blizzard the Grand Forks Herald named Hannah that came with a large amount of "http://rain" freezing rain and snow the weekend of April 5th. The storm rocked the region with winds up to 70 miles per hour and another six to ten inches of snow. Hannah preceded the Red River flood of 1997, the devastating natural disaster that led to the evacuation of Grand Forks, racking up $3 billion in damage from flooding and fire.
From its early, wet autumn to its destructive spring flooding, the winter of ’96-’97 was extreme all around, not soon to be forgotten.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura