Sub-Zero Weather in February 1899
By Ann Middleton
In the February 19, 1948 issue of The Bossier Banner the paper's editor reflected on what the weather report was for Benton in February of 1899.
"For almost two weeks we have experienced freezing weather. Thursday of last week we were treated to the most genuine surprise of this remarkable winter-a snow storm of unusual proportions for February. The fall was about five inches and a portion of the snow was still on the ground today at noon. During the week the thermometers in Benton have registered several degrees below zero."
The "Weather Notes" column of the February 16, 1899 indicated that many other states were experiencing severe cold. Eastern cities of the United States, still digging out of the snow, had reported much damage and many deaths. It was predicted that the cold spell would go down in history as the longest in duration, most widespread and worst ever experienced in the United States.
The poor in New Orleans were suffering terribly because of their inability to secure coal, and deaths were being reported there, as well.
Deaths were also reported in Houston, Texas, Arkansas, Colin County, Texas and Montgomery, Alabama. New York was without railroad communication as a result of the snow storm. Grain, cattle and produce industries in Missouri were injured by the cold weather. The coldest weather in 56 years was reported in Natchez, Mississippi. The Mississippi River was frozen over at St. Louis last Friday for the first time since 1895.
The March 2, 1899 issue of The Bossier Banner reported more news about the severe cold from around the state of Louisiana: "Many thousands of shiners were frozen up in the ice in Lake Providence during the blizzard; during the big snow about 250 rabbits ere caught near Indian Village, Ouachita Parish; several colored families in East Carrol [sic] Parish who were out of wood during the late blizzard burned their fences; rabbits were frozen to death by the hundreds during the cold spell in the neighborhood of Holmesville, Union Parish.
Another newspaper, The Baton Rouge Democrat, reported that cattle were dying all over Morehouse Parish because they were unsheltered and half-starved as a result of the cold.
Bossier Parish residents can be grateful for our own current very mild winter. After 2011's extreme heat and drought, it is gratifying to experience mild weather. While you are enjoying the mild temperatures, take some time to visit the very comfortable Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to learn more about the history of Bossier Parish.