Winters in North Dakota are unlike anything that I had ever experienced growing up. It is not unusual for temperatures to fall well below zero, even without the wind chill factor [1]. The very first winter that I was exposed to in North Dakota, 20 out of 31 days were in negative degree weather [2]. I found myself in disbelief and could not understand how anyone would subject themselves to living in a place where temperatures dropped that low. I cannot say that I have become accustom to the weather since then, but I have however found ways to adapt.

There are several instances where winter will decide that the weather has been too “decent” and greet us with a winter storm. On numerous occasions my wife and I have found ourselves either not wanting to, or simply unable to leave our home. Here are some helpful recommendations [3] when preparing for winter in North Dakota and the inevitable storms that come along with it:

1.     If you do not have a wood burning fireplace in your home, obtain an alternate source for emergency heat. Many storms have the potential to leave you without power for a short or substantial period. You will want to ensure that you have an adequate supply of fuel (wood; coal; kerosene; propane; etc.). 

2.     Have an emergency food supply on hand, just make sure that it is something that you and your family will eat. It is suggested that you have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods [4]. Some items that would work well for your emergency supply would be peanut butter, cereal or granola, fruit bars, canned juices, etc. For me, nothing is worse than being cold except for being cold AND hungry. 

3.     Have an emergency medical supply or first aid kit on hand. Just as you may not be able to leave your home due to weather, help from emergency services may not be immediately available during a winter storm. 

4.     Have battery-operated equipment readily accessible. I learned this the hard way as I was fumbling around searching for a flashlight in the dark during a power outage one year. In my opinion, having a plethora of flashlights accompanied with additional and backup batteries, is significantly safer than burning candles especially if you have small children. Although my wife is an avid candle collector, she has reluctantly agreed with me on this after our little started crawling and climbing on everything. In addition to having flashlights, you will want to make sure that you have a radio or some other source to obtain weather updates and information.


5.     Have some board games or card games available. Being stuck inside can be difficult enough and if you are without power having fun things to do will help to pass the time. It is also a great opportunity to spend time together enjoying one another’s company.


For more winter information and helpful suggestions, is a fantastic resource.

If you find yourself isolated and confined to your home at any point this winter (and still having power), make sure that you have plenty of good movies, blankets, and some hot chocolate; enjoy your complimentary North Dakota “snow day”!  

 Jordan Douglas

Article by Jordan Douglas,