Nov. 11 is Armistice Day (called Veterans Day in the United States), the date in 1918 that marked the end of World War I.
It’s also the date of one of the biggest snowstorms ever to hit the U.S. — the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940, which killed 150 people and thousands of livestock in the Midwest.
According to the National Weather Service website, a strong weather system originating in the Pacific Northwest destroyed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on Nov. 7 and moved across Colorado by Nov. 10, headed for the central states.
In Minnesota and western Iowa, Nov. 11 started out with temperatures in the 50s, prompting many duck hunters to head out in search of game. At first these hunters were pleased with the number of ducks and waterfowl flying overhead, not realizing they were fleeing the oncoming storm.
When temperatures dipped rapidly, falling rain turned to sleet and snow, and hunters in boats encountered 15-foot swells and winds of 70-80 mph. Hundreds lost their boats, and many drowned or froze to death when the early moderate temperatures dropped below freezing.
The storm created drifts of snow up to 20 feet high across the Midwest, burying cars and stranding passenger trains. Three large ships in the Great Lakes sank, with a loss of 58 sailors.
Iowa’s apple industry was devastated by the storm, causing farmers to shift from orchards to fields of corn and soybeans.
The storm forced the National Weather Service to revise its forecasting procedures. Instead of being directed by the Chicago office, forecasting responsibilities shifted to regional centers that could offer more timely and accurate weather predictions.