Update: January 28, 2017: Today is the 40th anniversary!
One year and one week from today will be the 40th anniversary of the infamous Blizzard of 1977, which pummeled Western New York and Southern Ontario, Canada, with record-breaking snowfall from January 28 - February 1, 1977. Try 100 inches in some areas with 30 to 40-foot drifts (yes, feet). Gusts of up to 70 mph produced windchills as low as -60 F. It was the blizzard of all blizzards...
And I was there to witness it all.
|A photo from the Lockport newspaper. Those people are standing on top of a house.|
Well, the winds began to pick up early Friday morning on January 28, and by late afternoon the blizzard was in full swing. My mother worked as a waitress at the Apple Grove Inn restaurant, and I recall her just making it back home before sunset. The restaurant was only a few miles down the road, but it took her at least half an hour. From then on we were all transfixed by the TV and radio reports on the storm. You can listen to some of them along with an excellent slideshow of storm photos in this video.
The TV miniseries Roots was airing its sixth episode on the first day of the storm, and I vividly recall watching that for a bit and returning outside to shovel. Back and forth, back and forth. Once the storm ended a few days later, there was a corridor through the snow from the back door to the garage taller than me.
The entire Western New York area was impassible and all the highways were shut down. Many people were trapped in their cars for days. President Jimmy Carter declared it a disaster area. There were 28 storm-related deaths. Police and rescue teams asked residents who owned snowmobiles to help out since the roads were pretty much non-existent. My father was one of those snowmobilers who offered assistance.
Days out of school? I think it must have been at least two weeks. A wonderful two weeks. My god, there was a lot of snow. A LOT. I remember seeing a photo in the newspaper of three cars pushed on top of each other in a snow bank by one of those large highway plows. It was pretty crazy.
Like most Western New Yorkers and Buffalonians, I am proud to say that I lived through this. We witnessed and survived one of the worst blizzards on record. It wasn't the first, and it certainly wasn't the last, but it will always last in our memories.
Sixteen years later I got trapped outside in the Blizzard of '93 in the same area and almost died. You can read that story, "Adrift," in my book Musings of a Dysfunctional Life.
Post your Blizzard of '77 memory below and share.