The forecasts leading up to the ground blizzard on Wednesday, Feb. 12, left many people in disbelief that a forecast of "an inch or less" of snow could be anything other than a "bunch of hype." However, the concept of a bad storm being related only to snow totals is incomplete.
The Great Plains is a very windy place and, here in the Northern Plains, persistent winter snow cover can be easily loosened and made airborne by wind speeds around or above 35 mph. In 1984, a ground blizzard trapped dozens of cars overnight along Fargo's 19th Avenue North. There was no way to rescue them and four people died. That storm produced just an inch of new snow and the old snowpack was somewhat crusted.
It was a different era, but a similar ground blizzard in March 1941 resulted in the deaths of 72 people in the Red River Valley when around an inch of snow, accompanied by high winds and a sudden drop in temperature, caught many people in their cars on a Saturday evening.