On April l0, 1973, Dubuque began digging from beneath a record single snowfall of 19.2 inches that began on April 8th . This broke the previous record set twice, March 26-28, 1931, and March 46, 1959, of 17.6 inches. Absentee levels at the JOHN DEERE DUBUQUE WORKS and the DUBUQUE PACKING COMPANY exceeded 50 percent as drifts reached heights of fifteen feet. An estimated twenty-five snowmobilers assisted city police in transporting stranded people to safety. Computations by the city engineer showed that this snowfall equaled 232 million pounds of snow or a load that would have required for removal 4,300 trains each seventy-five cars long.
Dubuque's legendary winter storm occurred in December 1870. During an unusually warm spell with temperatures hovering near 70 degrees, three hundred businessmen wearing straw hats marched down Main Street on the morning of New Year's Eve to board a steamer for a trip downriver to a planned picnic by CATFISH CREEK. The event was a public relations idea to advertise Dubuque as a fine place to spend the winter.
The men had hardly disembarked when they scampered back on board in the face of sudden stiff northern winds that dropped the temperature to the low 20s in minutes. The chilled businessmen hurried into harbor in time to beat a blizzard. This episode became known as the "Straw Hat Incident."