Before recent floods began reaching near-epic proportion as a matter of routine, locals used to refer to the flood of 1897 as the Great Flood, at least as far as the Red River was concerned. That winter had been a terrible one, with a series of severe blizzards in November and plenty of snow and cold to follow. The first half of March was remarkably cold with a lot of subzero weather.
On March 15, 1897, Fargo-Moorhead was experiencing the last of four days with the temperature at or below zero all day. The low on the morning of March 15 was 32 below and the high that day was 2 below. The average snow depth was 28 inches, more than double the depth today. Starting March 16, the weather turned much warmer and it began to rain, eventually culminating in the Great Flood of 1897, which was the benchmark for floods until 1997 and 2009.