Blizzard of 1967

January 26th, 2011 at 11:50 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

<–abandoned cars and buses on Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago. I was in high school (New Trier) and living in Wilmette, Illinois during the blizzard of ’67. The storm hit on Jan. 26, 1967.   Outside of the snow, my best memory is some kid driving around the high school in the blizzard with his convertible top down and everyone pelting him with snowballs.  A week before the storm, the temperature fell to -8 in Chicago. Then, two days before the big snow, the temperature hit 65. At 9 PM on 1/24, it was still 60 degrees and we were under a severe t-storm watch! I remember I was at a meeting of the St. Joseph teen club and I wanted to be outside watching the storm come through. Winds hit 48 mph at Midway Airport, funnel clouds were sighted and one person was killed (four injured) when winds blew down a wall at a construction site. I remember measuring 29″ of new snow in Wilmette (a little boost from Lake Michigan) along with 6-foot drifts. An estimated 50,000 cars and 1100 buses were abandoned in the storm. A total of 273 people were arrested for looting on the south and near-west sides of the city. Officially, Chicago had 23″ of snow in 29 hours. Here’s home movies after the storm, and more video.  That storm also hit West Michigan with very heavy snow, severe drifting and of course, lots of school closings.  This thread has been moved up from last year.  New comments in 2011 begin with #10.

28 Responses to “Blizzard of 1967”

  1. Cathy (near Grand Rapids) says:

    I recall that storm — I was working for WLAV in the Waters Building on Pearl Street. The roads were so awful that our boss, John Shepard, forbid everyone to drive home. He paid for hotel rooms for everyone at the then Pantlind/now Amway Grand hotel.

    1. Chrissy says:

      I was conceived during the blizzard of 1967 and was born October 14, 1967.

      1. Jeff says:

        TMI, Chrissy. TMI.

      2. Temple says:

        I was born on January 26, 1967 =)

  2. ben says:

    Wow Bill, your old. I was born 2 years later.

  3. Terry (Caledonia) says:

    Like Bill, I was 16 during the blizzard of ’67. My dad and I plowed snow for 3 days straight without going home for sleep and food, eating sandwiches we had packed and taking turns plowing. I remember getting a message at one of our regular’s house asking us to go to a house where they neeeded to get out for medicine. We had never been there before and needed directions. When we followed those instructions to a T…we missed the driveway by about 30 feet and plunged into a ditch about 6 feet deep. In that era before cell phones, we could not call anyone to pull us out. I rolled down the window of the truck, crawled out and up to the surface, and began to shovel. We shoveled for nearly 4 hours before we got to the ground and another 8 hours before we found the other side of the ditch. After 22 hours, we had shoveled our way out, plowed the driveway and drove home to sleep. Naturally, that was the “new” customer that never paid us a dime. And, we found out they were getting a prescription refilled for the upcoming month. Sheesh!

  4. Annette (Wyoming) says:

    My sister had just been born at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. My father worked for the City of Kalamazoo. They had to get plow trucks to plow a path from the hospital to their home and my father followed the plow. That was the only way to get them home from the hospital safe.

  5. Dawn says:

    Wow! I haven’t thought about that storm in a long, long time — I was 10 years old. The snow was above our car roofs, the snow drifted around all of our out buildings (I lived on a farm) and there was one lane plowed down our secondary road in Barry County. It took a week to dig out. We were pretty much house bound — unless you wanted to walk around the buildings. Somehow my dad made it to work — neither rain, nor snow, nor . . . he made it in. What would kids do now with only three basic channels on a black and white console TV, radio, board games and toy trucks and Barbie dolls to play with? I am sure we played in the snow too — toboggan was probably the only way to go that wouldn’t get stuck in the snow!!!

  6. ANNETTE says:

    I remember that blizzard I turned 13 that Saturday and was suppose to have a sleepover guess what no sleepover for my birthday. we were snowed in for a week the farmer that lived across the road had milk cows but would not sell us any of his milk just in case the truck made it through for a pick up. Luckly my mom was always prepared for such things so the only thing we did run out of was milk.

  7. Jeanne says:

    I was born during the blizzard on 1/26/67. My Mom says it was raining and there was a tornado warning the day before I was born. I have read many articles about the HUGE amount of snow that fell, and how 100′s of people were stranded in the Schoolcraft area, so people took them into their homes. It makes you wonder if people would open their homes THESE days. Anyway, every year I am reminded of the blizzard of ’67 when I was brought into this world with the winter blast!~ :) (Schoolcraft)

  8. MChamberlain says:

    My oldest child (daughter) was born on 1/26/67. My neighbor took me from Parchment to Borgess because my husband was stuck in a snow bank on his truck route. My neighbor was also a trucker, but had made it home. He prayed all the way up the hill on Gull Road and we made it. My doctor was in Africa on a medical mission trip so Dr Zettlemeier and Dr Tom Kavenaugh delivered our baby. My Mother-in-law was a nurse and had stayed at the hospital, so she was able to be with me until my husband could get there. The next day my husband jumped out of the 2nd story window at his parents’ home onto a snow bank and walked to the hospital. I stayed a week and could not believe the snow banks were so high. On the morning of the 26th the temps were in the 60′s and it was misty out. By the time I realized that I needed to go to the hospital, the roads were almost impassable. Many thanks to that long ago neighbor, God Rest His Soul.

  9. Joy says:

    I remember the blizzard of ’67 very well. We were coming home from our honeymoon on the east coast and were stranded on the I196 X-way just east of Lansing by Williamston from 9:00AM to 6:00 PM. The National Guard finally opened up the shoulders of the highway and more that 90 semi’s and 300 cars pulled into Williamston that night. They fed everyone a pancake supper at the Methodist church and found homes for all of the families and put up the truck drivers at the church. The people were so gracious and giving.They went out of their way to help everyone as best they could especially seeing that the only grocery store in town had their roof collapse. We ended up spending 2 nights there before the road on the west side of Lansing was opened up again. We will always remembers the blizzard of ’67!!

    1. slim Jim nw GR (2) says:

      Gee was I 96 built then? I thought it was still US 16 then!

      1. slim Jim nw GR (2) says:

        Did some checking and it looks like I-96 was built in 1967. I did not know for sure.

  10. slim Jim nw GR (2) says:

    I know I stated this before but over in Bay City the 1967 storm was the bigger of the 1978/1967 storms in Bay City.
    In the 67 storm we could not get out of our front door (it faced west) but we could get out of the side door (that faced north) in fact on the side door there was a large area where you could see the grass with less then an inch of snow but just past that (in the driveway of course) this snow was waste deep. And the drift in front of the house reached almost to the top of the house. People had to use ladders to clear the tops down from the drifts.
    while the records can not be found for Bay City the Detroit NWS office has a list of the top 25 for Saginaw I am sure Bay City’s should have been similar

    From the Detroit NWS office….
    Saginaw’s Heaviest Snow Storms
    Rank Date Amount
    1 January 26-27, 1967 23.8
    2 January 26-27, 1978 22.5
    3 March 17,1973 21.3
    4 February 24-25, 1965 17.9
    5 December 19-20, 1929 16.9
    6 January 31-February 1,1914 16.9
    7 January 13-14,1979 16.1
    8 February 21,1898 15.0
    9 April 2-3,1975 14.4
    10 February 25,1935 13.5
    11 March 24-25,1947 13.3
    12 January 2-3, 1999 13.2
    13 April 29,1909 13.0
    14 November 6-7,1951 12.7
    15 February 12, 1985 12.6
    16 April 14-15,1904 12.5
    17 February 6,2008 12.0
    18 February 20,2005 12.0
    19 March 4th,1985 12.0
    20 December 27-28, 1968 12.0
    21 November 29-30,1940 11.9
    22 December 20,1971 11.5
    23 January 9-10,1997 11.3
    24 November 2-3,1966 11.3
    25 November 27-28,1995 11.1


  11. GunLakeDeb says:

    I have a vague recollection of starting to walk/trudge a mile-and-a-quarter to Burton Jr High School (remember – back then, girls HAD to wear skirts) – and then someone in a car yelled that GRPS was closed??

  12. Evie says:

    I remember that blizzard. I was in junior high and I didn’t hear my school canceled for the day. School never canceled before. My mom even told me that I could stay home from school but I was determined to go. I trudged through the snow. I had to walk in the street the snow was so deep. I got to school just to find out that my school had indeed closed so I had to turn around and walk all the way home! I should’ve listened to me mom! LOL

  13. Larry of Hastings, Barry Co. says:

    They don’t make blizzards like they use to. I remember the storm very well. Mom won’t let us kids go outdoors, the snow was too deep.

    1. Diane says:

      I was in Swartz Creek. The drifts between the houses covered two cars completely! After my dad, bless his hard working hands, shovelled the sidewalk and driveway we all went outside and made snow forts until dark. The next day the whole family put on snow suits and went for a walk out of the subdivision to the main roads. The only traffic was snowmobiles, which were not very plentiful back then!

  14. Marlene (Gun Lake) says:

    I remember heading out to visit my parents in Lake Odessa with my 2 month old baby boy. The weather suddenly started turning bad and my folks wouldn’t let me go home. Instead Dad went to the store to buy what I needed for baby formula. My husband and his mother drove over to get me, but they ended up snowed-in as well, and we spent 3 days there. My husband helped Dad and my brothers plow and shovel snow to get the milk truck in and out. Mom always had plenty of food in the freezer and of course there was lots of milk!

  15. Bernie McnNamara says:

    Chrisst ,

    I was conceived February 25 1065. The snowiest day on record in Windsor Ontario.


    1. Diane says:

      Wow! You’re OLD!!

  16. Debra says:

    Bill so glad you are blogging about the 67′ and 78′ Blizzards … I remember both very well and was just telling my kids about them. In 1967 I was eight years old and remember the terrible time my parents had just getting the front door open. We lived on a country road in Hastings. While Mom and Dad were frantic because we were running out of food and fuel oil us kids were having a blast digging out tunnels in the high snow drifts like little moles. I remember being able to walk on top of them and being able to see a long distance, made me feel so tall.

    Luckily a few days into the storm some nice gentleman, don’t remember if he was a neighbor or what, came and picked up my Dad on a snowmobile and took him to town. Us kids were quite worried as it seemed he was gone forever. I have a permanent picture in my mind of seeing him come home on the back of this snowmobile with a fuel oil can between him and the driver and each arm holding a bag of groceries. He was cold, his face was all bright red and his arms aching from holding those bags of groceries all the way from town.

    The Blizzard of 78′ was a year after I graduated high school and had moved into an apartment complex near 44th and Breton. I was one of those crazy people who jumped from my second story balcony into a snow drift.

    Thanks Bill for letting me post some old memories!

  17. Myron Wernette says:

    Woke on the 26th to a thunderstorm & 60 degree temperatures while we got ready for school. Around 9:00 am while sitting in my chemistry class in Eaton Rapids High School I noticed a wall of snow coming from the SW moving across an open field which I brought to the attention of my chemistry teacher and the class which was amazing as this was a true WALL of snow! With all the mud from the past few days of warm thawing temperatures, this snowstorm made things worse as the Eaton Rapids School Administration had a horrible time getting the bus drivers in to cancel school. I understand they started calling the drivers in by 9:30, but school was not to be let out until noon and then a major electrical black-out hit the area around 11:00 that morning! By the morning of the 27th the heavy winds had whipped our 30+ inches of snow into 6′-10′ drifts with temperatures below zero. Frozen like rock on the top and deep gooy mud underneath! No school for a week and most business’ were closed as workers could not move. Only 2 snowmobiles were owned in Eaton Rapids and they were kept busy by one of doctors and his brother-in-law moving nurses & support staff in and out of the Eaton Rapids Hospital. The National Guard was called out with their half-tracks in Battle Creek, Lansing, & Flint. This storm was a narrow band and the heaviest snow band was about 50 miles wide. Just to our south in Jackson, they only had about a foot of snow.

  18. Jim says:

    I remember that storm well. I got stuck at work for three days. I worked at Town and Country Grocery Store in Kalamazoo. The snow was drifted in front of the store from the roof to about 50 feet into the parking lot. Had a bunch of college students living across West Main in Apartments that got out the next day and dug a passage to us to buy beer. We opened up and for the next two days and did a roaring business. It was three days before I was able to get the one mile to my home. But, we did eat well!

  19. Charlie L. says:

    I was in 8th grade living in Eastown, walking to the old Ottawa Hills High School at Iroquios and Alexander during the blizzard of Jan ’67. Had gotten to the corner of Sherman and Ethel and parents were hollering that GR public schools were closed for the day! First time since the 40s that, that had happened. Spent the day shoveling out folks’ driveways for $2-$3…made about 30 bucks that day…I remember being very tired by dark!

  20. Cathy Martin Johnson says:

    I remember the Flint 67 storm very well. My husband was a Flint Patrolman and had been injured in uniform and was still in the VA Hospital in Saginaw. I went into labor with our only child on the evening of Jan 23 and delivered on Jan 24th. Then the heavy snow started and they could not let us go home because the roads had not been cleared. Oh how well I remember

Leave a Reply