The Hard Winter of 1880-1881 was featured in the Laura Ingalls Wilder historical fiction account, The Long Winter, as well as in other novels and several town histories across the region. Both meteorological records and historical accounts indicate that the winter was particularly long, snowy, and cold. An understanding of the climatological factors influencing the Hard Winter, along with the context for its severity, allow us to quantify and describe its severity, as well as provide potential attribution. Additionally, the connection of the winter of 1880-1881 to a popular book written by an author who is a cultural icon provides a natural vehicle with which to communicate weather and climate concepts to multiple non-technical audiences. A narrative constructed around the books, particularly The Long Winter, provides a means of audience engagement and interest in weather- and climate-related topics.
Geography Building - 673 Auditorium Road, Room 126, East Lansing, MI 48824