Remebering the Blizzard of '66: 50 Years Later

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A man living in Clear Lake, South Dakota, celebrated his 50th birthday Thursday. But looking back, March 3, 1966 wasn't an ordinary winter's day in the Northern Plains. It was just the beginning of what would become one of the harshest blizzards on record.

Fifty years later, Aberle, one of four children born stranded in that storm shares his unique story.

"Now that I drug this history out, I went home looking for pictures. History is important. Not as much until you get older. I hadn't read that paper since I was in high school," Jerry Aberle said.

He is child number 13 of 14 total in his family. He was raised on a farm near Glencross, South Dakota, about 30 miles west of Mobridge.

With the help of his older siblings, and a senior research paper he wrote at Timberlake High School, he recalls memories from the Blizzard of 1966.

"Started Wednesday afternoon. A lot of snow. A lot of wind. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Broke Saturday morning. The intensity of the wind. 60 mph. Three feet of snow from Wednesday to Saturday. They were supposed to get 2-4 inches of snow. Nobody planned for the event it became," Aberle said.

What an event it was.

KSFY News received 1966 video footage from sister station KFYR-TV in Bismarck as photographers captured the storm's incredible intensity and effect on the community.

It rolled in on Wednesday March 2nd and conditions worsened Thursday March 3rd which was the day Jerry was born.

"When dad realized Wednesday, they were to go to Mobridge for an appointment for a check-up. They decided not to go. That Wednesday night is when the storm really started. By midnight or so, mom was in labor... Dad goes outside, said we're not going anymore. We can't see. The snow was so blinding, you couldn't see anything. He came back in," Aberle explained.

By 5:00 a.m., Jerry's mother had no choice but to give birth at home.

"This was mom's 13th child, she knew what to expect," he laughed.

"That was 50 years ago. So many things could have went wrong. Again, the trust was there. It worked out."

His parents have since passed away but his unique first day on earth is something he'll hold close forever.

"I didn't think about it. Now the closer I get to the 3rd of March, my actual birthday. I think it's a little more emotional now. Mom and dad are both gone. Seeing the faith they had," Aberle said.

He said you need a little bit of faith and some very good survival skills.

"I know I bring some of that with me. I have a lot for that. I like to do my own produce, I like to can. Have meat in the freezer at all times, another source of heat. Things like that. That did come. You just never know and you have to be prepared."