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Blizzard Christopher hit 20 years ago today

GRAND FORKS, N.D.—The latest entry in the blizzard brigade from the stormy winter of 1996-97 is Christopher, which blew into the region 20 years ago today—Dec. 20, 1996—and dropped 4.2 inches of snow.

Mike Jacobs, who was the Grand Forks Herald editor at the time, described the Friday night storm as "only an annoyance, hardly a memorable storm—unless, of course, you were out in it."

According to archives, Christopher resulted from a "small, but potent" low-pressure system moving east along the international border. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning that included the cities of Bottineau, Rugby, Devils Lake, Langdon, Grafton, Pembina and Grand Forks in North Dakota and Warren and Hallock in Minnesota.

Wind gusts of 25 to 45 mph created near-zero visibilities in some areas, the Herald reported, and wind chills were forecast to hit 45 below zero.

No travel was advised, and conditions were plenty miserable, but compared to blustery Blizzard Betty, which had ended its three-day barrage only two days earlier, Christopher was relatively tame as blizzards went in the winter of 1996-97.

Throughout the next few months, the Herald will look back on the eight major blizzards leading up to the Flood of 1997. The blizzards and their snowfall amounts were as follows:

-Andy: Nov. 16-17, 1996, 12 inches.

-Betty: Dec. 16-18, 1996, 8.7 inches.

-Christopher: Dec. 20, 1996, 4.2 inches.

-Doris: Jan. 9-11, 1997, 8.8 inches.

-Elmo: Jan. 14-16, 1997, 0.4 inches.

-Franzi: Jan. 22-23, 1997, 8.6 inches.

-Gust: March 4, 1997, 6 inches.

-Hannah: April 4-6, 1997, 6.3 inches.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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