By Judy Woodward
Every week, the reference librarians at the Roseville Library answer hundreds of questions from the public. Here are a couple of the interesting queries they have received lately:
Q. I remember a storm when I was in grade school in Albert Lea in which so much dirt blew into southern Minnesota from the Dakotas that it was as dark as night during the school day and everything was covered with dirt when we left to go home. I think it was in the winter, but I don’t remember for sure. It would have been in the 1950s. Can you help?
A. Although we can’t pinpoint for certain the date you remember, we did a quick search of the digital archives of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for the 1950s. During that decade, there were two front-page stories about blizzards in Minnesota that also involved dust storm features.
In particular, an article on March 12, 1954, talked about “reddish-brown dust whipped into the air” in Albert Lea which was a “complicating factor” in the storm.
The other front-page story involving snow and dust appeared on March 2, 1950.
If you have a childhood memory of an unusual weather event like a “snow/dust storm,” you can ask a librarian to help you locate information about it from our digital newspaper archives.
Other good sources of information are local historical society archives. For more about memorable weather events in Albert Lea, for example, you might consider contacting the Freeborn County Historical Society Library. They will almost certainly have more detailed records from that era. (Proquest Historical Newspapers database.)
Judy Woodward, who lives in St. Anthony Park, is a reference librarian at the Roseville Library, 2180 N. Hamline Ave.