KS, MS, WY, NE, ND, SD, CO, TX Blizzard of 1886, Jan 1886

The Blizzard of 1886 and Its Effect on the Range Cattle Industry in the Southern Plains
by David L. Wheeler

Before noon on January 6, it was apparent at the Signal Office in Washington City, the nation's capital, that an unprecedented cold wave was descending the Great Plains. The first of seventeen warnings and cold wave signals was dispatched to weather observers in the storm's track:

Washington City, January 6, 1886, 4:45 P.M. To observers, Cheyenne, Wyoming; North Platte, Nebraska; Yankton, Dakota; Denver, Colorado; Dodge City, Kansas; Omaha, Nebraska; Concordia, Kansas; Leavenworth, Kansas (repeating to Wellington); Kansas City postmaster, and dispatcher Fort Scott and Gulf Railway; Lamar, Missouri:
Hoist cold wave signal. Cold wave, accompanied by a “norther”; temperature will fall from 20 to 25 degrees in the next twenty-four hours at western and northern stations, and in twenty-four to thirty-six hours at southern stations. Hazen

The leading edge of the cold wave was marked by a turbulent cloud accompanied by blowing sand and freezing drizzle that turned to sleet and then to driving snow. By the time the first cold wave warning reached weather observers, a blizzard extended over west Kansas and, with gale force winds, hurtled toward Indian Territory and the panhandle plains of Texas. Life and livestock throughout the plains were in grave danger from exposure to the snow and cold.

With the storm's onslaught, cattle on the open range turned tail and drifted before the wind. Any obstacle in the path of drift cattle was a potential death trap. Snow-filled draws, rivers and waterholes, railroad cuts and ditches, and especially fences were instruments of destruction. Thousands of cattle were drowned, trampled, suffocated, frozen, or starved. Entire herds were lost. Cattle companies were ruined. The storm, in a single stroke, lay prostrate an industry doomed of its own excesses.

The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, page 416
The Portal to Texas History

The Blizzard of 1886, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/blizzard-of-1886/11982