Earlier this week we were a bit surprised by a heavy snowfall that snarled traffic, left motorists stranded along the New York State Thruway, closed schools and prompted driving bans. Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs are no strangers to snow so we thought we’d go back 50 years to find other snow storm stories. We used our Local History File, which indexes (mostly) local newspaper and magazine articles.
The earliest entry we found referred to “The Great Blizzard of 1966”. Two major storms hit in January. They constituted an “official blizzard” (conditions of winds of 35 mph or more, considerable falling and/or blowing snow and temperatures of 20 degrees or lower). According to the now defunct Courier Express newspaper, the economic impact was a $37 million loss or $231,000,000.00 in today’s money because thousands of workers dropped a day’s pay. Offices and plants closed. The accident rate soared. Many claims were filed for damaged homes and cars. Businesses lost trade, transportation tieups forced fruit prices higher.
One delivery waited four hours. It took two ambulances and two snowplows to make it happen. Mrs. Robert Bartus of Angola went into labor with her first child. The first ambulance collided with a snowplow and the second skidded into two roadside ditches. Four hours later she delivered her daughter at Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna.
November 3-5, 1966 saw another blizzard that rolled back and forth across western New York. Schools were closed and South Buffalo was especially hit hard. Two feet of snow fell in Buffalo and the suburbs while eight inches fell in Niagara County. West Seneca police had many stalled cars bogging down Union Rd., Transit Rd. and numerous side streets.
According to an October, 1968 Courier Express article, man tried to lessen the imapct through cloud seeding! The federal government announced that its Environmental Services Administration would finance the “highly localized” attempt to take some of the punch out of Western New York’s famed “lake effect” snow storms. They used three aircraft to seed clouds along a 10 mile front as clouds passed over Lake Erie. The intention was to “re-distribute the snowfall in the most beneficial way.” The experiment was scheduled for Nov. 1- Dec. 15. Subsequent articles deemed cloud seeding successful but seemingly only produced minor effects.
Stop by the Grosvenor Room in the Central Library, ask a librarian where the Local History File is kept and search under “snow” to find more historical articles.