The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Long Winter

The constant beating of the winds against the house, the roaring, shrieking, howling of the storm, made it hard even to think. It was possible only to wait for the storm to stop. All the time, while they ground wheat, twisted hay, kept the fire burning in the stove, and huddled over it to thaw their chapped, numb hands and their itching, burning, chilblained feet, and while they chewed and swallowed the coarse bread, they were all waiting until the storm stopped.

It did not stop during the third day or the third night. In the fourth morning it was still blowing fiercely.
“No sign of a letup,” Pa said when he came in from the stable. “This is the worst yet.”
 
On the television series Little House on the Prairie, the sun is almost always shining—not surprising since it was filmed in Simi Valley, California. On television, the weather was hardly ever a problem. The TV stories are usually about how people interact with each other. But in the books, the Ingalls family was up against much more than that mean Nellie Oleson. The Long Winter of 1880-1881 begins with family on their South Dakota homestead, bringing in the hay crop on a lazy August day when all seems well.
 
But something about the weather is bothering Laura’s Pa, and an early blizzard in October makes him all the more worried. When an Indian comes to the tiny, nearby town of De Smet to tell them that this will be a winter of hard blizzards lasting for seven months, some of the settlers try to laugh it off, but Pa decides to bring his family into town for safety. Surely, being snug with neighbors nearby will make even a hard winter bearable.
 
The settlers had counted on the train to bring them needed supplies from the East in bad weather, but with the tracks overset with heavy snow from the many blizzards, even the townspeople find themselves stranded with no food. The Ingalls family--along with many others--is starving. The fuel for heating the houses is also running out. Without a brave and maybe foolish plan, the whole town might perish before the warm Chinook wind starts to blow.