Forget the East Coast Snow, Remember the Chicago Blizzard of 1967?
Over the past few days, we’ve been treated to a lot of news about snow. First, the Rockford area got some long-overdue snow to (hopefully) wrap up the season. Then, over the last two days we’ve been bombarded with news about the blizzard on the east coast. But, how many of us remember the Big Snow, or the Chicago Blizzard of 1967?
I must admit that my memory of the Chicago Blizzard of 1967 is a bit fuzzy, being that I was 4 years old at the time. I remember my grandmother worrying about family members who were stuck in the middle of the storm, and of her showing me the newspaper photos of the massive snow, but I would have to wait until the winter of 1978-79 to get a taste of a storm like that for myself.
In January and February of this year, most of the weather talk around here was about our lack of snowfall, and how we were setting records for the longest periods between measurable snowfalls. Somehow, the 50th anniversary of the legendary snowstorm came and went without much fanfare.
The Chicago blizzard of 1967 struck northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana on January 26-27, 1967, with a record-setting 23 inches (58 cm) snow fall in Chicago and its suburbs before the storm abated the next morning. As noted in 2016 and 2017, it was the single greatest snowfall in one storm in Chicago history. As the blizzard was a surprise during the day with people already at work or school, it stopped the city for a few days as people dug out. “The storm was a full-blown blizzard, with 50 mph-plus northeast wind gusts creating drifts as high as 15 feet.” The Chicago area started to recover from the extreme snowfall over the weekend, then it snowed 4 inches (10.2 cm) on Wednesday, February 1. The following Sunday, February 5, another storm dumped 8.5 inches (21.6 cm ) of snow.
During the storm, thunderstorms also were part of the mix, and there were multiple reports of funnel clouds. When all was said and done, the blizzard caused over $150 million in damage (1967 dollars), and killed 26 people in Chicago, with another 60 people killed throughout the region. 500 snowplows, some coming from as far as Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan, along with over 3000 workers hit the streets in force to help with clean-up.
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