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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Weather Obsession

If you are following the Sherburne History Center facebook page over the last few weeks you will have noticed we are a bit obsessed about the weather.  In studying local historic newspapers, it appears the concern for weather is part of the character of Sherburne County residents.  And, it simply isn’t the record highs and lows, the impressively strong winds, or tornadoes that roll through the county.  Each day the weather is unique and becomes an interesting facet of coming events.  Even the smallest details are noted.

In August of 1894, the Sherburne County Star News reported not only was it hot (the daytime temperature hovered around 100 all week with a night time low of the high 80s), but also technology had taken a step forward for weather forecasters.  The newspaper reported, “Elk River is now furnished with weather reports by telephone.  The character of the weather is no better than it was before.”

Extremes in the weather were always noted in the newspapers.  On August 5, 1897, the Sherburne County Times noted the incredibly wet summer.  “According to official measurements over 11 inches of rain fell in this section of the state in the month of July.”    According to weather websites, the average July rainfall for Sherburne County is about 4.1 inches.  1897 must have been a very wet year.

Just three years earlier, drought had hit the county.  The newspapers were noting the lack of rain for crops and the low level of the Mississippi River.  “W. E. Corey says he never saw the Mississippi River so low,” the papers reported.  “”He says there is hardly water enough to float logs in the middle of the channel.”

Blizzards, extremes in snowfall, rainfall and tornadoes are all noted in the news.  The Veterans Days Blizzard that hit the entire state in 1940 will be forever remembered.  And the tornado of 1967 that tore through the county will also be noted in memory.  And that is what makes it interesting.  There is always something new in the weather reports of Sherburne County.  It inspires a slight obsession.