Monday, February 7, 2011

Worst Snowstorm I Remember

Grandmother:  The worst winter I can remember was the winter of 1949-1950.  Living on a ranch we were more or less at the county's mercy to get the road plowed when it stormed.  The storm hit two days after Christmas with blowing snow and cold temperatures.  The windows in the house were covered with frost, you could write your name or blow a little hole on the pane so you could see outside.  Naturally we had chores to do so everyone bundled up and headed to the barns for feeding cattle and milking cows.  The roads were completely blocked with drifting snow and doors to barns had to be shoveled.  The snow began to pile up.  With New Year's Day just a couple of days away we wondered if we could make it to the annual dinner at the neighbor's.  They lived two miles down the road from us.  My sister, two brothers and I did not want to miss the festivities so we talked our parents into walking the drifts on the road.  Since the drifts were uneven it was an adventurous trek.  My mother did not see the merriment of walking up one drift and down another.  We did make it to dinner and had a great time visiting, playing cards and eating.  The trip home was much longer and everyone complained about the snow.  The county bought a new rotary plow and tried it out on the road leading to our house, it took them two full days to dig through the drifts and free us.  Darn we had to go to school.

Mom:  Having lived in Montana, Colorado and Wisconsin I have seen my fair share of major snowstorms, but the one that is most infamous in my memory was in 1986 when we were living in Herndon, VA. I don't remember how much snow dumped on the area, but it was enough to paralyze Washington, D.C. for days. I joked to anyone who would listen about how easy it would be to invade the country (a precarious statement to make since two secret service men lived on our street). All the Russians would have to do was bring in airplane loads of snow and dump it on D.C. They could then walk right in and take over, because seriously the city was a ghost town in 1986. In fact our neighborhood was strangely quiet and not a creature was in sight...except for two little kids who had been booted out of the house!

School closed and stayed closed for 6 days. I thought they were never going to open it back up again. To avoid ending up crazy and secluded in a padded cell, the kids spent a lot of time outside. You would never guess it, but there were a lot of children who lived on our street...but on this day they weren't outside.

This is why it shouldn't snow in states where they don't have snow plows...I think they finally cleared some of streets with construction graders. Plus they waited for solar heat to do a lot of the melting and clearing.

You will be happy to hear that no children or parents were harmed (at least in our household) during the big blizzard of 1986 in Virginia!

Daughter:  As an adult, I have only been through two bad storms.  The first one was in South Carolina in 2005 where an ice storm caused a blackout that lasted about a week.  Unfortunately, my super cool trendy cement floors proved to be impractical for cold, winter days without heat.  So I spent the blackout with one of my friends and what could have been an awful, lonely, cold week spent under covers turned out to be a really fun adventure where we played games by candlelight and drank hot chocolate by the fireplace.

My most recent storm was not as much fun.  I'm sure some of you heard of the Snowpocalypse that hit the Midwest last week.  It was definitely the worst storm I have ever seen: white-out snow with 70 mph winds and thunder and lightning followed by sub-zero temperatures.  

We spent the evening watching it all from the comfort of our home.  But of course we had to venture out just once so we knew what 70 mph winds felt like and let me tell you they are not fun!  While my dad kept telling me that this storm was nothing and he had to walk home from school in worse blizzards, pieces of Wrigley Field were flying off the stadium; one of the city's main thoroughfares was shut down and people were stuck in their vehicles for 9+ hours; and a lot of the city was without power.  Goes to show him, huh?

When the winds had died down and the snow had slowed, we ventured outside.  And this is what we saw:

Cars looked more like snowdrifts than vehicles.

The frozen, snow covered Lake Michigan looked like it belonged in Antarctica rather than in the bustling city of Chicago.

And our neighborhood was shut down and people were using the roadways as walking paths because vehicles were few and far between.

We are just happy to report that our son was not one of the blizzard babies because that would have been a disaster!

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