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Every year in November, our country marks the wars that have fractured our past and the bravery of the men and women who fought them. Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday is a chance to remember not just those who fought, but what they fought for.

Origins of Armistice Day

Armistice Day, held on November 11 every year, commemorates the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany at 11am on 11 November 1918 - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Although hostilities continued in some areas, the armistice essentially brought an end to fours years of fighting in the First World War.

In Britain, it's tradition to pause for a two minute silence at 11am on November 11 to remember those killed in the two world wars and the British servicemen killed or injured since 1945.

The armistice was signed in Ferdinand Foch's railway carriage in the remote Forest of Compiègne, north of Paris, at 5am on 11 November 1918, and came into force at six hours later, at 11am. (Incidentally, in 1940 Hitler forced the French to sign an armistice on German terms in the same railway carriage.)

French military commander Foch was in charge of leading the negotiations and signing the agreement which made it impossible for the German army to recommence fighting.

The Treaty of Versailles signed six months later acted as the lasting peace treaty between the nations.

The armistice forced the Germans to evacuate invaded countries and territories within two weeks. They also had to surrender a significant amount of war material, including five thousand guns, 25,000 machine guns, 1,700 planes.

Germany, exhausted by war and with a nation of hungry citizens, reluctantly accepted the terms.

Here's a heartfelt thanks to all the great men and women who have made the sacrifice to serve our country in all our conflicts and defend the freedoms we hold dearly. I humbly salute you.

Armistice day is also the anniversary of one of the most severe early winter storms to ever strike the upper Midwest. Heavy snow fell across the Dakotas, much of Minnesota and Iowa, and northwest Wisconsin. The greatest snow total was 26.6 inches in Collegeville, MN. In addition, 30 to 50 mph winds caused considerable blowing and drifting of snow which trapped unsuspecting motorists.Twenty foot drifts were reported near Willmar, MN.

The blizzard left 49 dead in Minnesota, and gales on Lake Michigan caused ship wrecks resulting in another 59 deaths. The storm claimed a total of 154 lives, and killed thousands of cattle in Iowa. More than a million turkeys were killed by the storm in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and other states. Occurring on November 11, 1941 the storm became know as the “Armistice Day Storm”.

Here's an excellent account of the storm from the NWS out of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Be sure to explore all the various links from pictures to personal accounts and computer simulations. It was a heck of a storm for early November.

This storm caused the Weather Bureau to rethink its forecasting procedures. Forecasting for the entire region had been directed by the Chicago office, but in the wake of this storm, responsibilities were distributed to regional centers to provide more timely and accurate predictions.

Nearly 70 years later the National Weather Service has turned into one of the nation's best assets providing timely and accurate forecasts and warnings. Countless lives have been saved by the top notch work of the NWS. Here's a tip of the hat to the men and women of that fine institution who serve and protect in their own way! Roll weather...TS

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