Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Big Kahuna of Snow - 1967

As I've said, the recent snowstorm was simply a blip around here, compared with big snowstorms of the past. In 1999 we had an innundation of really wet, heavy snow. The Farmer was in Florida and I was left with the clean up. It took me two days to clear the driveway. The task involved shoveling off an entire top layer to get it down to a point that the tractor could deal with it and even the plowing was a tedious process. Since the snow was so heavy the only technique that worked was to shave a few inches off the sides of the packed snow.

The big kahuna snowfall happened back in 1967. I was a 19 year old college student at the time and luckily I didn't have classes the day of the snowfall or I would have spent the night in the city, sleeping on a couch in the student union.

We had been experiencing very wierd weather. The week before the temperature had dropped to -13 and on January 24th it was 65 degrees with wind gusts of 50 mph. Meterologists were tracking a development that promised snow. Here's the official weather forecast for the Chicago area at 3:45 a.m.

ISSUED AT 345 AM THURSDAY JANUARY 26
...HEAVY SNOW WARNING...
TODAY...SNOW WITH ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 INCHES OR MORE BY THIS AFTERNOON. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION GREATER THAN 90 PERCENT. TONIGHT...SNOW DIMINISHING OR ENDING. COLDER WITH THE LOW NEAR 20. NORTH TO NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 80 PERCENT.

It soon became evident to the forecasters that the snow would be a little more significant and they changed the forecast.

ISSUED AT 945 AM THURSDAY JANUARY 26
...HEAVY SNOW WARNING...
TODAY...AN ADDITIONAL 4 TO 8 INCHES. WINDY WITH STEADY TEMPERATURES. NORTHEAST WINDS 25 TO 35 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 100 PERCENT.
TONIGHT...SNOW DIMINISHING AND ENDING. COLDER WITH THE LOW 10 TO 15. NORTH TO NORTHWEST WINDS 15 TO 30 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 50 PERCENT.

Here's what Columbus Drive in Chicago looked like the following day.

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The snow fell so fast and heavy that traffic was hopelessly snarled. People were force to abandon their cars and walk to the nearest place of shelter.

Cars were totally buried.

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It was a gigantic mess that brought a great city to a grinding halt.

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This looks like the neighborhood where the Farmer was raised. The brick bungalows were built very close together, creating a gangway between the houses.

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The gangways were literally filled with snow.

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Commuters wait for buses that will never arrive.

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What do you notice about that picture? The women are all wearing skirts!!! That's right. Back in 1967 pants were not allowed at work. Dresses and skirts only! Pantsuits came a couple years later. I remember you'd be fired if you dared to show up to work in a pair of pants. We'd would wear them in casual settings but that was all.

Kids made the most of the storm. Here some kids play around a buried car.

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My own brother repeatedly jumped off the second story porch roof onto the huge piles of snow beneath.

The snowfall was recorded at 23 inchees in 24 hours. But that wasn't the end of it. A few days later we got more snow and then more again. In the 11 day period from January 26 to February 5th we received 36.5 inches!

Now that may not be alot compared to some mountain regions that get snowfall in the hundreds of inches, but in a large metropolitan area it creates major problems. The biggest problem was, where do you put that much snow? As you can see in the picture of the woman shoveling, after awhile you can't possibly fling the snow up high enough on the pile. The City of Chicago finally had to load the snow into trucks and dump it into the Chicago River.

It was quite an experience, and one that I will never forget.



11 comments:

Susan said...

Great nostalgic pictures. I had to chuckle about the rules of wearing skirts to work. The one thing I remember from those days was that women, especially, did not wear jeans. They were meant for farm work. It literally took me years to be brave enough to buy my first pair of jeans and I know it had to be around 1979 or so. Imagine!!!

Vee said...

That's wild! I noticed right away that the women were wearing skirts. We weren't allowed to wear pants until my junior year of high school and then it had to be a pant suit. It must've made for some mighty cold shoveling! How in the world did they get the highways cleared? I can't even imagine. They're having a big brouhaha over putting snow in the Charles River or in the bay in Boston. It's a battle between the green crowd and the more practical crowd. Guess you can see which side I'm on in this. Here we can't put snow in the river and have to have it hauled off to some farmer's back 40 or my front lawn. That's right. I took the hit for the entire length of the street last night in anticipation of another big system coming in. Ackkkk...

Theresa said...

Hi Suzanne,
We must be about the same age!!! I was in college in Superior WI that year.
Can't you just hear all the men complaining about the cold - wearing their pants and high topped boots. I remember my first pair of pants - hip huggers that I wore on a date.
Thanks for a look at yesterday - no colored film yet either. (You you younger set - film was put into cameras to make photographs. Then you had to send it away to be processed.) Love the big old cars, too.
Terri

Greenmare said...

oh my, what great pictures! and such a memory!! thanks for sharing that one!

Jody Blue said...

What a storm! I remember seeing pictures of my Grma and Aunts in skirts on the farm...I do think farm women we liberated to pants long before women who worked off the farm and out of the home.

Steph said...

Might not seem a lot to you, but we had a blizzard in 1993. Where I lived in Alabama got 17 inches! We were trapped for over a week!

srp said...

Yes, I was in Gary, Indiana... and 14 years old during that time. I posted about it back in 2005 and my memory was a bit daft.. I thought it started on a Wednesday and snowed through Friday, but apparently it began on Thursday. All I know is that it was snowing when I went to school and when I came home on the bus at early dismissal at noon and then on through the night and part of the next day. Our house looked like these and we had one door that opened to the inside of the house... all others opened out and we couldn't get them open. The drifts were almost up to the roof of the house... ranch. I remember the weird temps too and that we had tornado watches or whatever they called them back then. We were out of school... that Thursday afternoon and all the next week.. going back to school on Friday but with only half the kids there. Then that weekend another 11 inches came and we had Monday off. That second smaller round didn't cause as much havoc.. I guess the original havoc made it seem almost normal.

Spend the Thyme Farm said...

A trip down memory lane for sure! I remember it well. Biggest thing I fondly remember was there was a drift all the way up to the roof of the house and my two older brothers delighted in trying to climb up and on top of the roof. To my mother's horror of course! THAT was a great storm! And 2011 was right behind it!
Marianne :o)

Kathy R. said...

Hi Suzanne. Before I forget thank you for the post card. I live 20 miles north of Baltimore, MD and just last year we had over 5 feet of snow in a 3 day period. The first storm hit on the 2/4 with the second one on the 7th. My Dad's snowblower had died in December and we had nothing but shovels. Our driveway was plowed after the first storm by the farmer who rents our field, but he never showed up after the second storm. We didn't break through to the road until the 14th and that was thanks to my cousin and his oldest boy (I told him that was the best birthday present ever). I missed an entire week of work. In the city they brought a snow dragon down from Canada to melt a lot of the snow and some was dumped into the Chesapeake Bay. Needless to say we now have a new snowblower and it is much better than a shovel :). We got to try it out a couple of weeks ago after getting about a foot of snow. Stay warm - Spring is hiding somwhere.

Cindy La Ferle said...

A fascinating post -- and I have to share it with my son, who lives in Chicago now. Here in Detroit, we didn't get nearly as much snow as they predicted for "THE BLIZZARD OF 2011...!" It created a lot of drama on TV for a while, but it was pretty much business as usual for us here. That said, it's been a very snowy winter in Michigan, more than usual.

At Home in English Valley said...

Hi Suzanne, Loved seeing the photos you posted. Wish I had some photos of my own, but taking photos was a special occasion thing in our family. Snow, no matter how many inches just didn't rate. The thing I remember most about that snow was how long the piles of snow lasted. Also, I had go go boots, not snow boots. I was cold but groovy!