Today Is the Anniversary of Two Legendary Blizzards
It's hard to think of anything that people talk about around these parts with more pride than weather calamities. Stories about tornadoes are re-told with a proper amount of fear and respect, whereas blizzard stories tend to be like fishing stories, they tend to get bigger and better with age.
Two blizzards happened on this date. The one older locals talk about was in 1967. The second one was in 1978.
This was back in an age when people saved newspapers' front pages to commemorate such events. In 1967, the Western Herald proclaimed "Western Digs Out After Worst Snowstorm in Kalamazoo History". Eleven years later the headline was "Greatest Blizzard Ever Chokes All Of Michigan."
The blizzard in '67 totaled some two feet of snow over a couple of days, and damaged Read Fieldhouse at WMU. Countless people's home were without power.
I have a different perspective on that blizzard as I was a child in Chicago. That same weather system dumped almost three feet of snow on a city of some five million people. I've heard meteorologists says it was essentially a snow system aloft stopping over the city and not moving for two days, just dumping snow. As was the case here, the city was paralyzed, with drivers abandoning cars in the middle of the street and buses unable to move, let alone navigate through the snowy and icy mess. I remember trying to get from the back door of our house to the unattached garage, some twenty yards away, and being literally stuck in a massive pile of snow.
The blizzard of '78 was bad, too. A retrospective from the Kalamazoo Gazette said the three items that sold out quickest at the store were milk, bread and booze. Flash- forward to 2020, and it was toilet paper.
I remember my father taking seven hours to try and drive maybe some four miles to get home.
Vanished Kalamazoo is filled with pictures that seem almost impossible, like a driveway with the cards almost completely covered in snow and drifts reaching to the gutter of the roof.
But for those thinking it can't get that way again, think back six years to the 193 vehicle (you read that right) pile up on I-94 between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Or another one on I-69, fifty vehicles. Always bet on Mother Nature.