The Blizzard of 69′

While posting to a local weather site, I was asked to recall my most significant weather event and it brought this event back to mind.

My wife and I had just returned to Brooklyn New York from our honeymoon in February 1969. I was a Staff Sargent in the Marine Corps Reserve and had recently finished my active duty. I was scheduled to begin my reserve duty in Hartford Connecticut the following day. The weather, however, had other plans.

 That same day, the blizzard of 69 hit the Northeast. As the snow began to accumulate, my father-in-law, Fred, an ex-army serviceman who served during WWII, said that if I were required to be at the reserve station the next day, he would make certain that I was there to report for duty. He, my mother-in-law, my new wife Judy, and I all piled into Fred’s Ford Galaxy and headed off for Connecticut.

 John Lindsey, the mayor of New York at the time decided to save money by holding the plows back until later in the storm. The snow accumulated so fast, however, that by the time the plows were deployed, they could not keep up with the snowfall. Many roads soon became impassible and several times during the trip, we had to use snow shovels to dig our way through clogged intersections. A jack-knifed tractor-trailer blocked one street for several hours and we could only sit and wait for it to be cleared to continue. By that point, snowplow operators were being rescued from their immobile plows along the Hutchinson River Parkway. When we reached the Connecticut border, the roads became much clearer and we were able to proceed slowly but completely through to Hartford.

Fifteen hours later, we arrived at the Marine Corps Reserve Depot just prior to my reporting time. It was closed due to the weather. My father-in-law has long since passed away, but to me, that evening has always stood as testimony to his sense of duty and determination, even in the face of a blizzard.

What are your most vivid weather memories, or, as in the case of Fred, most memorable people associated with severe weather events?

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.

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3 thoughts on “The Blizzard of 69′

  1. In May 1983 my family lived in Baldwinsville, NY and a tornado came through our neighborhood, the first tornado in the area in 80+ years. Our house was hit, taking off the roof, and the next day from across the street you could see inside my sister’s and my bedroom on the second floor. The winds were so hard they blew windows in, including the ones in a living room which covered my sister, who had fallen asleep on a couch, with glass. My parents couldn’t open the basement door because of winds and so my sister, mother, and I waited under the kitchen table while my dad went to get help from the neighbors. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to walk out of the house and into that storm with your family still inside. Easily the biggest impact weather has ever had on my family. But I was only five so it became part of my history, as though it wasn’t that big of a deal. In elementary school in Ohio later, where we had tornado drills as well as fire drills, and when the teacher talked about tornados, I would say how a tornado hit my house like it was something that happened every day.

    • Hello Nora,

      Thank you for your comments. Not many people could say that they have had that kind of experience in their lives. If weather facinates you, you might want to check out WTNH’s site, WXedge.com. It covers every aspect of the subject. You might also enjoy my book, “Amanda’s Room” available in ebook form on Amazon.com. If you read it, I would be very interested in your comments re. how well I captured Katie’s experience of being caught in a tornado.

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