Scandinavians, Winter, and Minnesota

December 26, 2012
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  

Here in northern Minnesota, there is still a long winter ahead of us.  The older I get, the less I like the snow and cold.  I always wonder what possessed my ancestors to settle here in northern Minnesota.  

When many of them immigrated in the late 1800's, the winters had to be even more brutal without snowplows, central heating, and heated automobiles.

The Minnesota DNR has compiled this climate data on Minnesota:


Average annual precipitation - Average Annual Precipitation Map
Northwest: 19 inches/year
Southeast: 34 inches/year
Average annual snowfall - Average Annual Snowfall Map
Northeast: 70 inches/year
Southwest: 35 inches/year
Latest spring freeze - Median Frost Date Table
April 29 - metro area
May 27 - far north
Earliest fall freeze - Median Frost Date Table
October 5 - metro area
September 16 - far north
Average temperature
Spring - Average Spring Temperature Map
36 F north
44 F south
Summer - Average Summer Temperature Map
60 F north
70 F south
Fall - Average Fall Temperature Map
38 F north
46 F south
Winter - Average Winter Temperature Map
6 F north
16 F south
Warmest temperature on record - Minnesota and United States Climate Extremes
114 F - Beardsley (July 29, 1917)
114 F - Moorhead (July 6, 1936)
Coldest temperature on record - Minnesota and United States Climate Extremes
-60 F near Tower (February 2, 1996)
(Reviewed 2008)

I sometimes reason that my ancestors were from Norway, and it's cold there too, but the climate in Norway is much milder according to

Monthly average temperatures for Oslo, Norway, in Fahrenheit

And according to a blurb from a  7/26/1886 NY Times article, the 1885 Minnesota census listed 184,948 residents as born in either Norway, Sweden or Denmark, and another 160,000 born of Scandinavian parents.  That was roughly 1/3 of the Minnesota's population.

My Dad's family are of Norwegian descent.

Below are vintage family photos of my Norwegian ancestors, enjoying?, enduring?, or maybe just making the best of a Minnesota winter:

Great Grandpa 

Grandma's sister

My Grandma holding Marlene (I love her clothes, the dog and the old car too)

Grandma's brother

Great-great Grandpa, Great Grandma, and Great-Great Grandma

Grandma's sister and my Grandpa.

Grandma's oldest sister and Grandma's nephew.

Grandma, Grandpa, and Grandpa's sister.

What is northern Minnesota weather like today?  It's currently -6 deg F, with the predicted high of 9 deg F.  Brrrrrrrr!  But at least it's not 40 below!

Thanks for reading my blog, Carlene

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  1. We're supposed to be getting a "big" snowstorm here today. 6-8 inches lol. I grew up close to Cleveland where they get a lot more snow than down here in Columbus, but still it's nothing like you guys get on a normal basis. I love snow, but after January 1st, I'm pretty much just waiting for spring to get here.

  2. Awesome pictures! But they don't look very bundled up. Maybe they are used to the cold.

  3. You are surely stronger than I in regards to that kind of weather. I prefer 103 degrees in summer which is our extreme. Love those vintage pics of your family:}

  4. Love the snow and a little cold but not that cold.
    Love the pictures. They sure were a sylin' back then. Not all casual like nowadays.
    Stay warm.

  5. I can barely stand the cold in Oklahoma. Don't know how on earth you stand it that cold.

  6. Brrr Carlene. I couldn't stand to live in a place that cold. It's in the mid 30s here today, with rain and wind and I'm sitting here freezing.
    Love the photos of your ancestors.

  7. your photos! I have a whole drawer full of photos that look like we could be related! My refrigerator is full of Swedish Meatballs, a rice pudding and some lingonberries!!! Thankfully there is NO Lutefisk stinking up the place...there is only SO much I will do for my husbands need for tradition! Happy New Year...where are you in our great state?

  8. I love your vintage family photos! Your Minnesota trivia is really interesting!

  9. I love all the old family photos! I'd rather have snow and cold than a brown winter. :)

  10. Thanks for sharing these wonderful vintage photos! I am inspired to look through my family's pictures now :)

  11. I love your photos of days ago! I grew up in Brainerd, MN....I miss it sooooooo. I don't know if I could handle the cold winters @50 yrs old now but I have several photos of our winters that I hope when day my grandchildren will look at lol. I now live in Texas so I agree with Vickie snow is better than brown!!

    I love your blog! Here's to another great year 2013!


  12. Your vintage family photos are wonderful! We are in the midst of a big snowstorm at the moment - expected for this time of year though! Hope you stay warm!

  13. love this post and the pics...I think my favorite is grandmas sister! She looks like she'd be fun :) All of the clothes and coats and styles are so interesting to look at.

  14. I love your old photos. I have many similar ones and my grandparents also immigrated from Norway and settled here in Minnesota! Uffdah!

  15. Guess I won't complain about throwing another log on the fire on this 21 degree morning!! Love the pic of the girl with the pipe!!! All of them are so cool!

  16. Those photos are just priceless, Carlene! You folks must grow some thick skin in Minnesota! I'll be featuring you next week at Knick of Time Tuesday - thanks for sharing at the party!
    Happy New Year,

  17. Oh wow Carlene, love the vintage photos. You come from good strong stock. I love a bit of Winter, but I think this is a tad too cold for me. Christmas without snow would not be the same. However, after Christmas and the month of January I am ready for it to be "our of here". lol! Thanks for sharing these priceless pictures with Share Your Cup. I will be thinking WARM thoughts for you my friend!

  18. Carlene, those photos look so familiar. Guess it's because mom and dad's families were from Minnesota. And that's why they settled here in Texas after dad came out of the air force. No more shoveling snow for them! I spent a Christmas in Minnesota and I was never colder! Brrrr. So glad to be in my central texas home. Until August. Happy New Year!

  19. I grew up here in Western WA but my hubby grew up on a farm south of Moorhead - I've been there when wind chill was -60!! Air temp on Christmas Day was -25, too. Whew. Popped over here from Savy Southern Style, btw.

  20. Hi Carlene. Last summer I read the 8 volumes of a book called ' The Emigrants' speaking about the mass of scandinavians emigrating to America in the late 1800 . What the books said was that they settled in Minnesota because they recognized the nature there. Many trees / bushes were the same and they 'recognized' the climate, so they immediately felt at home there. I am a Dane myself, and found the books really interesting !.Keep warm !


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