CLICK HERE FOR BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND MYSPACE LAYOUTS »

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

I don't know where you are as you read this, but here in Western New York, we are in the midst of Snow season. Considering all the jokes you hear about us on TV this time of year, you'd expect that we were experts at this, and you'd be right. The plows are out, the salt trucks are excreting their burdens, and most of the drivers are demonstrating proper Winter Driving Skills, well-honed from LOTS of experience.

The main reason we became experts at all this began 30 years ago yesterday: the infamous [or legendary, depending on your view of living through an historic event] Blizzard Of '77. The local office of the National Weather Service put together a meteorologic-ally oriented account ten years ago that stands as a good summary of events; http://www.wbuf.noaa.gov/bzpns.htm. USA Today has a more general summary in its archives: http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wbufbliz.htm. But, as in any historic events, the best accounts are from those who went through it. Or, in the following story, a certain Craven Little Coward who managed to get out...

In the Winter of 1977, I was a sophomore at Gannon College [now Gannon University], in Erie, Pennsylvania. I'd come home for January Break, which had passed, for the most part, without any incident. I was planning to head back Sunday the 29Th for the resumption of classes the following day. Friday, however, I began to wonder if my plans would have to change. I'd felt cold. I'd seen snow. But nobody had ever seen anything like this.

In another entry, I've noted that Western New Yorkers normally need at least a foot of snow dropped on us, and the records at the Airport weather office state that only about 12 inches fell during the entire four days. But this snow didn't stay on the ground. It swirled. It blew in every direction, including straight up. With the winds, it became dangerously cold outdoors. It was impossible to get anywhere by car (remember, this was before the SUV, when virtually the only four-wheel-drive vehicles were Jeep runabouts), and very difficult to travel on foot.

Saturday morning, with all the neighborhood stores closed, my father (God rest him!) and I set off on foot for the nearest supermarket, about three-quarters of a mile away. We dragged my childhood sled behind us, figuring [correctly, as it turned out] that the store wasn't going to hassle anyone using anything to help bring groceries home. I don't remember what, if anything, my father and I talked about on the way. There was no point asking him if he had ever experienced anything like this: no one in memory had. We got home without incident, and with a sled-full of groceries.

Sunday, the Bishop of Buffalo excused Catholics from services [in fact, he basically encouraged them to stay home], a first in recent memory. With the morning cleared out of obligations, talk soon turned to my plans. Conditions were worst to the south of Buffalo and, while things were not wonderful, by any means, some roads had actually been plowed (miraculously including the one we lived on).I'd like to think I tried to talk my father out of what seemed like an insane trip: from our home, on the edges of South Buffalo, to the bus station (which locals will remember was then located on Main Street).

But my father was insistent. In retrospect, I think he wanted to prove that he was tougher than any storm. Or maybe he was just getting antsy from Cabin Fever. Anyway, with the help of a couple of neighbors, who dug us out of a monstrously high snow drift, we got our car (a station wagon he'd bought at a city auction, it had formerly been used by a Fire Battalion Captain. The dashboard was full of covered-over spaces, labelled with words like: "Siren", "Lights", etc. It was painted Fire Engine Red which, I suppose, would have made it easy to find in case we did end up in a snow bank) moving, and we were on our way. Some roads were still unplowed, of course, but my father, whose knowledge of Buffalo had been honed by a couple of stints as a cab driver, somehow kept us moving, and somehow got us to the bus station.

As you'd expect, the scene at the bus station was chaotic. Travellers from everywhere who'd gotten as far as Buffalo were desperately trying to get out. I scrambled through the mass of humanity, asked if the bus to Erie was still running, and was told it was still scheduled. Just before it was time to board, the PA announcer came on. He said that Greyhound would make no guarantees to get passengers out of the area [given the weather, probably a fair thing to note]. and that any tickets used, even for a failed trip, were non-refundable. After a brief discussion, my father decided that it was worth a try.

I remember telling him to be careful on the drive home, and to stay inside during the rest of the storm [he ended up going into work the next night, at the VA Hospital, crossing most of the snow-buried city in the process. He was frequently tougher than he let on...]. He told me to be careful, and to call if the trip was a failure. The first part of the ride, as far as the nearby lake port of Fredonia, was a nightmare. For once I kept the light off, giving up my chance to read, so that I could see how far this storm was ranging. I was sadly to be disappointed. By the time the bus reached Fredonia, we were looking at damp, but snow-free, pavement! The rest of the trip passed without incident and, if memory serves me right, we were only ten minutes or so late.

Thus my memories of the Blizzard are roughly the same as most people outside the area, based on TV accounts I saw at school. My family got through the storm without incident, building up a backlog of stories that still come up from time to time.Me? All I got from it was a story about bailing out before things really got bad.

What did Buffalo get from it all? Well, it was the first snowstorm that brought out a Federal State Of Emergency declaration. It also gave most municipalities an attitude of "Never again." No one could control the weather. But I don't think any area is better prepared for snow storms. Now the streets are cleared early. The airport's snow clearing crews are so efficient, their activities are video-taped and watched by crews in other cities as an example of How To Do It when the snows come to those places. Don't get me wrong: we love our Sabres. We're thrilled when the Bills put on a great show in freezing Ralph Wilson Stadium. But the real winter sport of choice in this area is Survival. No, it's doing what we want to do despite the weather. The number of "Bunker Hunkerers" in this region is surprisingly small.

Make sure you dress warmly this morning. You never know...

8 comments:

FragKitten said...

Wow! My mother is from new york and she used to talk about lots of snow, but never like this! She doesn't tell me a lot about her past though, besides that she grew up ina scary part of the Bronx. Very informative and great for my early morning read. :) Thanks for the personal advice on my blog, I'll look into making the colors a little less crazy lol. I've just always had a thing for red on black. I appologize for writing this in here with my comment about your blog, but I'm still very new and I haven't found any ways to 'message' peeps other than commenting on them. I plan on returning here many time in the future. Thanks! :)

K

D League said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D League said...

I think it's worse in Michigan. (I learned this from my mom) I steped outside and blew a bubble with regular bubble mix and it froze in midair and droped to the ground like a rock. It was sweet. But then I had to go back inside because I was in shorts and a t-shirt.

Keep warm,
D League

A. Cromarty said...

Heat up some hot chocolate and you'll be fine!

Snow Removal said...

Great read BTW

Anonymous said...

I couldn t agree more! GJ! financial help

Anonymous said...

Once we go through the word the saying like, not only in comparison to its a close association utilizing another, although like a emotion that's engendered for those who have miltchmonkey a better association yourself far too ( space ) as well as being a sensation of better unity with your loved ones as well as man ( space ) that results in being much more really clear that every everyone is seeking in daily life is usually enjoy.

Anonymous said...

top [url=http://www.c-online-casino.co.uk/]free casino games[/url] coincide the latest [url=http://www.casinolasvegass.com/]casinolasvegass.com[/url] unshackled no set aside reward at the chief [url=http://www.baywatchcasino.com/]baywatchcasino.com
[/url].