For those who lived through it, it’s something you’ll never forget. It’s the worst snowstorm I’ve ever experienced and for 29 people it was the last one they would experience. The Blizzard of ’77. It really is a blur because it lasted for days and the effects of it were felt for weeks.

E H Butler Libary Archives

 

First, it was an extremely cold winter. Lake Erie had frozen over by the middle of December and it had been snowing a little bit each day, nearly every day since Christmas. By the end of January the snow was between two and three feet high around the area and because nearly a third of the city’s snow plows were out for repairs, the clearing of streets was falling behind. Then it got worse.

WNY Media@Flickr

The temperature plunged into the single digits and the winds started to pick up – 70 miles an hour at times. And it howled for days. Visibility was near zero for more than 24 hours. For people out driving, roads were impassable. Many were stranded in their cars. If they were lucky enough to find a place to stay, they’d be there for days.

Only about seven inches of new snow fell during the storm but all that snow that had piled up on Lake Erie was picked up by those high winds and dumped on Buffalo.

The city was shut down for a week. Travel was banned. Schools and businesses were shut down. Homes and buildings were buried under snow. Some people had to tunnel their way out of their houses. I’ll never forget watching kids sledding out of their 2nd floor bedroom windows down the snowdrifts surrounding their houses. I remember walking on the roofs of cars that were buried under mountains of snow. "No parking" signs were at my feet.

Most people old enough to remember will recall watching Arthur Hailey’s mini-series “Roots” on TV as the Buffalo Blizzard of ’77 raged outside. It was all happening in late January into early February in 1977 – 36 years ago.