3.6 ENSO, NAO, and Laura Ingalls Wilder: The story of the Hard Winter of 1880-81

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 2:45 PM
Room 15 (Austin Convention Center)
Barbara Mayes Boustead, NOAA/NWS, Valley, NE

The winter of 1880-81 was strikingly difficult across much of the Plains and Midwest, so much so that it was featured in the Laura Ingalls Wilder historical fiction account, The Long Winter, as well as in several other historical accounts across the region. Both meteorological records and non-meteorological accounts indicate that the winter was particularly long, snowy, and cold. Reanalysis indicates that a strongly negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation was in place, as well as a weak to moderate El NiƱo episode. This study will investigate statistical tendencies of both ENSO and NAO on winter seasons in the Plains, including whether those tendencies were followed during the Hard Winter and other winters with comparable teleconnection patterns. Available reanalysis and meteorological data will be used to investigate the winter of 1880-81 in detail, including global weather patterns and regional and local impacts. Additionally, the study will demonstrate the communication of science concepts using a narrative voice to bridge to a broader audience.

Supplementary URL: http://www.bousteadhill.net/lauraslongwinter/

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