Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ozarks Weather

Last weekend, we had a late winter storm that dropped about six to eight inches of snow on the Joplin area. The photo at left of the deck and backyard at our house will give you an idea of what it looked like. It reminded me of other late winter storms of more historic proportions, such as the one in March of 1970 that dumped up to thirty inches of snow on the Ozarks. I was in the Army at the time and didn't witness that one firsthand, but my wife and other people still talk about it. Lee George, a former weatherman for Channel 12 here in Joplin, had notoriously forecasted flurries leading up to the 1970 storm, and always after that he would never use what he called the "f" word when it came to predicting snow.
A freakish Ozarks snowstorm that I remember from my childhood occurred in early November of 1952. I still have pictures of my sister and me playing in drifts up to our waists or higher and other photos of automobiles almost completely covered by snow, so that, if not for the shape, one would not know for sure what the objects were.
I think unusual weather makes a more indelible impression on children and young people than it does on adults. At least it seems we tend to remember weather events from "back in the day" better than we do recent ones. However, I would have to say that the ice storms of 2007 (January and December), for instance, have to rank with anything I had ever witnessed previously during my sixty years or so of living in the Ozarks. And the 2003 tornadoes that hit towns like Franklin, Kansas, and Carl Junction, Stockton, and Pierce City in Missouri were probably about as devastating, except in loss of life, as the infamous tornado of 1880 that destroyed Marshfield. With modern forecasting, the availability of storm shelters, and so forth, we are probably just better prepared to survive storms than we were a hundred and thirty years ago. As far as I know, though, no one has yet composed a song about the 2003 tornadoes the way ragtime musician Blind Boone did about the Marshfield twister.

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