It was on this date, October 15 in 1880 that a violent early season blizzard raked Minnesota and the Dakotas. Winds gusted to 70 mph at Yankton SD, and snow drifts 10 to 15 feet high were reported in northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota. Saint Paul MN reported a barometric pressure of 28.65 inches on the 16th. Railroads were blocked by drifts of snow which remained throughout the severe winter to follow. Gales did extensive damage to ships on the Great Lakes.
This storm was made famous by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her book “The Long Winter” when she writes about the early October blizzard that started the winter that continued to see numerous blizzards and bitterly cold weather. The following spring brought massive flooding as all the snow melted. The winter of 1880-1881 was one of the most severe winters in the upper-Midwest since records have been kept.