The Hard Winter in Context

Our favorite meteorologist, Barbara Mayes Boustead, will be presenting her work on Laura’s Long Winter on Nov. 17 in Sioux Falls, S.D. From the poster:

Laura’s Long Winter: Putting the Hard Winter of 1880-81 into Perspective
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
6:30 p.m. “Earth from Space” Tour
7 p.m. Presentation
Location: Kirby Science Discovery Center, Washington Pavilion

Was the winter of 1880-81 one of the “worst” on record in the region? Barbara Mayes Boustead, a forecast meteorologist and climate focal point at the National Weather Service office in Omaha/Valley, NE uses available weather records to place the historically known “Hard Winter” into perspective, looking at factors such as temperature, amount of precipitation, number of snow days, and wind information. Boustead’s study determines the extent of literary license in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Long Winter which chronicles the Ingalls family’s survival of the brutal winter of 1880-81 in DeSmet, South Dakota. The book includes stories of multiple blizzards lasting multiple days, with little separation between events, and with blizzards occurring from October through April of that winter. The “Hard Winter” had a significant impact on not only the Ingalls family and DeSmet, but on families and towns across the Plains.

Join us prior to the presentation for a tour of Earth from Space, a traveling exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution that will be on display at the Kirby Science Discovery Center from November 8, 2010 – January 9, 2011. The exhibition consists of 41 large-scale banners featuring spectacular satellite imagery collected over the past 30 years, allowing visitors to see our amazing planet from the perspective of orbiting satellites. Tracking the weather is one of the most important applications of remote sensing. Weather satellites in geostationary orbits provide the most well-known satellite images, familiar from their uses in television weather reports. Satellites are also used to track changes in sea surface temperature, which has important effects on global climate.

Earth from Space was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The exhibition has been made possible by Global Imagination. Additional support has been provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.

Posted in De Smet -- General, LauraPalooza 2010: Legacies, The Long Winter
2 comments on “The Hard Winter in Context
  1. Rachel says:

    were the temperatures in the “Little House” books farenheight or celsius?

    • Sarah Uthoff says:

      The temperatures are Fahrenheit. While more common in other areas of the world, the United States didn’t make a serious attempt at using the Celsius system until the 1970s (which it’s still a secondary unit of measure) 100 years after “The Long Winter” is set.

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