Winter Wonderland: 1909

Local children are currently doing their best to sled in the Quad City area.  The existing snow is beginning to wear thin though, with the fresh white blanket beginning to mix with the dark browns of soil and old leaves.  All eyes are fixed on weather reports awaiting the symbol of snowflakes on the forecast map. Young eyes sparkle with excitement thinking about outdoor fun, while older eyes already show wariness at the thought of cleaning off cars and parking lots filled with snow and muck.  After all, it is the holiday season (especially for those of us who haven’t finished shopping yet).

Reports of more snow in our immediate future sent us to our local newspapers on microfilm to take a peek at the weather in December 1909.  The excitement must have been more thana glimmer in the eyes of children that year.   Seven inches of snow were reported to have fallen on the already existing 5.8 inches that lay on the ground, leaving the area under 12.8 inches of snow creating another December record. 

By December 26th, the newspapers were reporting Davenport had received its greatest December snow fall amount in a 24 hour period.*  Up to 1909, the heaviest Christmas time snow had been 1.7 inches in 1886.

To make it even more exciting for many, the snow fell on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day morning.  It must have been a postcard-perfect winter wonderland.

One hundred years have passed and so have the records cited in that newspaper article.  But 1909 is not to be forgotten.  That year still holds the record for the coldest December 30th at a bone chilling -10 degrees Fahrenheit.**   1909 even holds 9th place to this day on the list of top ten snowiest winters in the region with 16.3 inches of snow that year.  2000 currently holds first place with a record of 32.0 or 32.9 inches (the final amount is still being explored) of snow.  A record many of us would not be interested in breaking.

The 1909 December snow did not seem to cause much disruption to everyday life.  While there might have been a great deal of it, the snow certainly didn’t amount to the blizzard of 1979 (which some of us still remember from our . . . very . . . early childhoods)

And if you are tired of hearing about snow, here is a little link to help you warm up.  Happy Holidays to everyone!


* Unofficial record keeping began in 1884.

** Temperature and other weather records are based from Moline, Illinois as Davenport, Iowa did not keep official records until the 1980s.  Both are part of the Quad-City region. 

(posted by Amy D.)

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