The Blizzard of 77 -- One of New York State's Most Destructive Snowstorms

The Blizzard of 77 -- One of New York State's Most Destructive Snowstorms

Twenty-nine people died in the storm from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1, 1977 the first snowstorm to warrant a federal disaster area declaration. Total damage reached $300 million. For 11 days, national news reports showed images of a city blanketed in snow up to the roofs of houses.

Blizzard of 77 Buffalo, New York postcard


When the blizzard began, it seemed like just another Friday morning snow flurry. But by 11:35 a.m., lightning flashed and the sky darkened. The wind shifted and began to howl. Soon, people couldn't see across the street.

"My reaction? Wow!" meteorologist Ed Reich said. "It was the most dramatic storm I ever saw." Surprisingly, the snowfall total for the storm was only 12 inches. What made the blizzard unique were the sustained winds, gusting up to 69 mph, which picked up the drifts piled high on frozen Lake Erie and dumped them in western New York and southern Ontario.

The winds were accompanied by Arctic cold temperatures, making it feel like minus 60 degrees outside. Whiteout conditions quickly trapped thousands of people at work, in cars and in homes. Some had to stay put for a day, others for the storm's duration. At least nine motorists froze to death in their stranded cars.

During this time WKBW Radio was the up-to-the minute source of emergency news for all Western New Yorkers. Not only did WKBW report school, office and factory closings but it was a major contributor of reports that cities, towns and even entire counties were closed and impassable due to blowing and drifting snow! The following audio clips were recorded during this event.

While listening to these recordings of the actual broadcasts, you may detect some anxiety in the announcer's voice!

Blizzard of 77 stop sign buried in snow

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20171105065010/http://www.wkbwradio.com/blizzard.htm

Unfortunately, the audio on that mirrored link cannot be played because the streaming audio files were never mirrored there.

But you can listen to them in this video by PhilaVideo on YouTube. It is well worth the listen.




Here's a TV Broadcast during the Blizzard of '77 from WBEN Channel 4:



A slideshow video from the mirrored website above:



Snow Depth Map of the Blizzard of 77 (skip to 1:22:24, pause, and fullscreen if needed):





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