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Blizzard of 77 Began 34 Years Ago Today

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It was on this day back in 1977 that a wall of black clouds descended on Western New York bringing bitter cold, heavy snow and winds as high as 75 mph in what would come to be known as The Blizzard of ’77.

The storm raged for just over 25 hours resulting in 29 deaths.

Many weather experts look back at it and call if the perfect storm.  Anybody that experienced it would have a tough time agreeing with the term “perfect”.   It was a combination of bitter cold temperatures, high winds and snow that created the infamous Blizzard of ’77.  It stranded many people at work for days.  In downtown office buildings some people had nothing more to eat than candy bars from vending machines.  My family was lucky to all get home from work and school, but many weren’t so lucky and ended up stranded in their vehicles for days.  Some people died from carbon monoxide poisoning trying to keep themselves warm inside their cars.  Some froze to death when their fuel tanks ran dry.  And still others died of exposure trying to get to shelter. 

 It was a storm of a lifetime, one I hope I never see again in my lifetime.  I remember driving home from school and stopping for gas.  It was snowing so hard I had to keep walking back and forth from my car to the fuel pump to see the numbers on the pump.

Days later I ventured out onto a road not far from my house and walking across snow drifts so high that speed limit and no standing signs on the side of the road were at my feet.  I was walking across the tops of some cars and where we could we tried to clear away the snow from the windows to see if anyone was inside. 

Many people, especially in the rural areas, welcomed stranded travelers into their homes for shelter.  In some cases those guests stayed for a week.  Those people became lifelong friends.

 A few blocks from my house people had to dig tunnels from their house to get to the street.  Some kids enjoyed themselves by sledding out their second floor bedroom windows into the street.

 There was so much snow there was just no place to put it.  Somebody came up with a wild idea to load up railroad cars and just take it south and let it melt.  Crazy, huh?  They ended up doing it.

Many people who experienced the Blizzard of ’77 still associate it with the Emmy award winning TV mini-series “Roots”.  It just happened to begin that weekend and most people were stuck at home anyway.  O J Simpson had a minor role in it.

 That incredible storm began today 34 years ago and is the biggest reason that Buffalo will also be known as the snow capital of the country.

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