Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)



It’s not unusual to see snow on a January day in Chicago, but what are the odds that a blizzard would hit on the same day — Jan. 26 — 11 years apart?

The blizzard of 1967 buried Chicago under 23 inches of snow. Just 11 years later, another blizzard blanketed the city in almost a foot of snow.

Just before the morning rush hour on Jan. 26, 1967, snow began pelting the city and slowing traffic to a crawl, the Chicago Daily News reported. At the time, meteorolog­ists told the paper to expect 4 more inches of snow that evening. About 2 inches had fallen by 7 a.m., but the report did not say how much was on the ground by the afternoon when the paper would have published.

The next day’s paper proclaimed at the top: Record snow — 20.1 inches. The snowfall shattered the previous record of 19.2 inches set March 25-26, 1930, and 16 people had died, many while shoveling snow.

“Thousands were clawing for shelter in hotels, motels and with neighborly hosts at snowclogge­d roadsides,” reporter Donald Zochert said. “Homes and highways were banked with drafts, some 18 feet high.”

A total of 16.4 inches fell on the city on Jan. 26 alone, Zochert said. By the end of the storm, 23 inches would blanket Chicago. Abandoned cars dotted streets and highways, their owners forced to find shelter in schools, offices or stores.

“At least half a dozen babies were born under emergency conditions, at home or after reaching hospitals in squad cars, jeeps and snowplows,” Zochert wrote.

Chicago police closed North Lake Shore Drive “from Hollywood to Randolph St. to prevent any further attempts to use it,” and both O’Hare and Midway airports were closed for a second day, another reporter, Les Hausner, wrote.

“Nothing ran on schedule,” he said. “Not much ran at all.”

Commuters abandoned the expressway­s and attempted to ride the CTA, Hausner said, but with so many extra passengers, trains and services were inevitably delayed.

For those who lived through the ’67 blizzard, the scenes playing out on the front page of the Chicago Daily News on Jan. 26, 1978, must have felt like deja vu.

“The storm threatened to dump up to a foot of snow on the city and suburbs before it cleared out,” reporter Frank Brenman wrote. “The National Weather Service described the blizzard as ‘one of the most intense on record.’ ”

Over 7 inches of snow coated the city and suburbs before dawn, according to Brenman, and 4 more inches were expected later that day. With 45 mph winds creating snowdrifts as high as 5 to 8 feet, schools canceled classes, and even the Stevenson Expressway shut down from “Cicero Avenue west to the DuPage-Cook County line.”

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation unleashed over 300 pieces of snow-removal equipment out onto the streets, Brenman reported, but many remained covered.

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