Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Great Blizzard of '78

Sorry I missed the official anniversary by a few days, but the Great Blizzard of 1978 struck the Great Lake State thirty years ago on January 26. Snowdrifts ten-feet high. Winds howling at 60 miles per hour. Barometric pressure lower than most hurricanes. 125,000 stranded vehicles. More than 20 dead in Michigan alone.

On the bright side, we all
got out of school for a few glorious days, and snow-fort construction reached an all-time high. And it inspired some flawless documentary filmmaking:


16 comments:

  1. uh...the snow in that footage pretty much looks like my driveway right now. I wonder if the Great mid-Michigan Blizzard(s) of "08" will be celebrated in another 30 years.

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  2. During that blizzard, I clearly remember listening to WFDF's long time morning disc jockey Dan Hunter (I know it wasn't Les Root, for he would read the closings during the newscasts) reading all the school closings and ending with (and I quote), "St. Mary's School in Flint is open". Needless to say, we didn't attempt the six block walk to school that snowy morning...

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  3. I know what you mean about st. Mary's! I lived on the other side of town near Northern High School, and I remember quite a few times when I couldn't believe the school was open. Of course, the nuns only had to walk across the street.

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  4. Yes, I can still see them walking across Delaware...If they were all living in that convent now, I'd actually be afraid for them. Thank goodness they aren't in that neighborhood now.

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  5. Send me an email. I'd love to talk to you about St. Mary's

    gordieyoung@sbcglobal.net

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  6. That would be wonderful. Much has happened to our beloved St. Mary's in the last twenty years, let alone the thirty we have been acquainted. You have a great website. Would love to see more articles or photos of Flint in the time we were growing up here; from our past, if you will. Thank you.

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  7. Okay Anonymous, now I'm really curious who you are. I've known you for thirty years. You're connected with St. Mary's...hmmmm. So send me a real email and end the suspense.

    gordieyoung (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

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  8. Gordie, where did the snow video come from? I didn't recognize the landmark.

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  9. To be honest, I'm not sure where the video footage is from. Could be Michigan or New England or wherever. I just thought it was funny. I wondered if the narrator forced his wife or girlfriend to record his comic genius out in the cold.

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  10. I remember CALLING Dan Hunter one morning as he got to work pretty much on time at 4:45 AM and asking some probably silly question. He was all out of breath and said "I wouldn't...huff huff... advise driving...huff huff...unless you have...huff huff...a four wheel drive vehicle." It wasn't 1978, though. There was the 1967 blizzard on the same day, and then the April, 1975 blizzard, most likely it was that one.

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  11. St. Mary's never closed. I remember walking to school in the 60's in deep snow. We were the only school open in Flint. There was no question of staying home, we worried Father Berkmeier would have come to the house and escorted you to school himself.

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  12. I remember Dan Hunter on the school closings. It seems like nearly every school for 40 miles around was closed and announced during those big snowstorms.

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  13. I can to this day hear Dan announcing some of the parochial schools such as Saint Francis Of Assisi and Yeshiva Beth Yahuda, which tended to be closed more. It was really unusual when Dan announced that the Flint Public Schools were closed.

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  14. Flint Historian ApproximatelyNovember 18, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Does anyone here have memories of the Great Blizzard of January 26, 1967, exactly 11 years before the one in 1978? It was the first time the Flint Public Schools had been closed for snow in DECADES. The storm affected not only the Flint Area, but Chicago, and many other cities in Lower Michigan. I can't find much about Flint's snowstorm stories specifically online, but there were 23 inches officially at both Bishop and O'Hare Airports as I recall.

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    Replies
    1. I remember both the 1967 and the 1978 blizzards. The 1967 was much worse. I worked 2nd shift at the Buick (Factory 04) and they worked us overtime that night. They knew no one but die-hards would show up for work in the morning. I was driving a 1962 rear-engined Chevrolet Greenbriar window van. There were seven of us and we thought we would make it easily. The Greenbriar would go through 3 times as much snow as the ordinary car and there were six of s to push. Well we drove out of Flint on Fifth avenue and headed to Flushing. I had riders who lived west on Pierson road. We made it up the huge hill west of Flushing but as we continued west it got harder and harder and the snow got deeper and deeper. I think it was at the height of the blizzard and it was all open country. We made it about 1/2 mile East of M-13 and simply could not go any further. The rear wheels drove the car but the front tires were up on top of 1 and 1/2 foot of snow. It was impossible to go any further. The farmer let us in and we spent the night on his floor. I remember thinking here we are, we just got paid and had a pocket full of money (it was a Thursday night and we had our vacation pay too) but couldn't go anywhere to spend any of it. The farmer and his wife kept us warm and fed us and let us use the phone. As we drove by that house over the years we would all dearly remember those people. (Richard G. Boyd) richboyd "at" Frontier.com

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  15. Does anyone out there have any pictures of the 1967 Blizzard? They are so hard to find! I do remember climbing up a snow drift to get on the roof of Longfellow's "new addition". Since it was built in the 1960's , I guess I'll have to stop calling it that! lol.

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