Community Comment

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 2, 2011, 1:25 A.M.

Could it happen here?

Good morning, Netizens...


You can hardly turn on your television this morning without reading or hearing about the blizzard which now covers a substantial portion of the Southern and Eastern United States. According to nearly everyone, the storm that hit Chicago, Illinois about 2 PM yesterday is destined to break records for snowfall that have stood since 1967. I was living in South Chicago in 1967 and have quite a few memories of that blizzard, especially when you stop to consider how much snow fell in a short period of time accompanied by 40 to 60 mile per hour winds.


My daily trip in those days, from the University of Illinois to Chicago Heights normally took about an hour using the Illinois Central Railroad. The first day of the storm of '67 it took me over five hours, and I nearly didn't make it at all when the railroad stopped running after a foot of wind-driven snow fell. The freeway was closed down, the Chicago Transit System ceased running at all and most major thoroughfares throughout the Windy City were closed by four and five foot snow drifts.


It was four days before anyone could navigate around the city, two of which I could not see across the street. Schools, including the University, were shut down so I didn't have to go anywhere, fortunately.


According to my step-daughter, who now lives west of Chicago, they have been watching the winds whip the snow around their apartment complex since this afternoon. The place where she works has canceled all shifts, and employees have been sent home until the storm dies out, which is expected to happen sometime later Thursday evening.


Given our experience with snow here in Spokane, I cannot help but wonder what caliber of catastrophe they would call it if we had two feet of snow accompanied by 60 mile per hour winds. Can you imagine four foot snow drifts blocking North Division or South Grand?


Given the right combination of weather fronts, we could have such a blizzard here, one that didn't hesitate to dump two feet of snow in one 48 hour period, accompanied by high winds. Boy, wouldn't that be something!



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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.