The winter of 1885 and 1886 was particularly severe for Kansas settlers, says this article on Kansapedia.
When a huge snowstorm accompanied by high winds hit the central plains in the first week of January, drifts of six feet or more were common and the temperature dropped to 30 degrees below zero in some places. The snow and wind were so fierce that people became lost a few yards from their homes. It has been estimated that nearly 100 Kansans froze to death during the storm.
Meanwhile, cattle turned their tails to the wind and “drifted” for miles across the open range until they dropped from hunger or exhaustion. Losses reached 75 percent in some areas, consequently bankrupting some large western Kansas cattle companies.
Business and rail traffic were paralyzed for weeks.
Thanks to D.M. Mitchell for this link
“The blizzard of January 1886 changed the way cattle were raised,” says D.M. “No more free range, barbed wire fencing, smaller herds, growing hay for winter feed.
“Of course, there were no farm subsidies and government programs to “save” the farmers and ranchers. Some went out of business, others converted to sheep, others stayed in the cattle business but with changes, as noted above. Still, all things considered, life went on without government intervention and neither the nation, nor the states directly affected collapsed in total economic ruin.
“Life can be harsh. Plan for it. Prepare for it. Be self-reliant and self-responsible.”