Staunton Star - Times - Published in the Interest of the Staunton Community for Over 143 Years

Sudden change of 1836 dropped temperatures 40 degrees in minutes Settlers froze to death, water became ice in blink of eye

 

December 22, 2021



By Tom Emery

This winter has brought the usual roller-coaster temperature swings, along with occasional bone-chilling winds and fast freezes. They’re nothing like the “sudden change” of 1836.

On Dec. 20 of that year, central Illinois was hammered by a monster cold front that dropped temperatures 40 degrees in a matter of minutes and left settlers awestruck. The freakish event killed at least five people in Illinois, as well as thousands of stock and game.

Though it sounds outlandish today, numerous accounts verify the phenomenon, which modern meteorological research terms a “flash...



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