This weather is no big deal

January 9, 2014

This weather is for wimps. Heck what did out temperatures reach at their lowest point? -8? Big deal. How much snow accumulation have we had this winter? I say not much compared to the good old days.

Like many of you, I’ve had to figure out how to get water through my frozen pipes. Once I found the frozen spot a portable heater worked wonders. I also had to endure the car that wouldn’t start and the ignition that wouldn’t turn because it was frozen solid.

But hey, I managed, and usually take these situations as a challenge. I’m not in to self-pity. Maybe it’s because I remember way back when, when temperatures were lower and snow was higher and I didn’t have nearly as many comforts of home.

Maybe it’s my age, but I recall temperatures dipping to the -10, -12, -14 range almost every January. My birthday is in mid-January, so I always kept a mental note as to how cold it was on my special day, and unless I was in Florida, it pretty much was below zero. Growing up, it was nothing to write home about. School was never cancelled because of excessive cold. You just dealt with it.

Many of us can recall the Blizzard of 1978, better known as the worst winter storm in the state’s history. The storm, which hit on January 25, and officially ended on January 27, claimed the lives of 70 people. It dumped up to 40 inches of snow in some spots and wind gusts were recorded up to 100 mph.

Muskegon recorded over 50 inches of snow. That’s over 4 feet dropped in a three day period. Townspeople measured drifts that were 37-feet high, burying many cars and even some houses. The wind howled at the tune of 50-70 mph for three straight days.

We’ve been screaming because wind chills are reaching 20 and 30 below.  During the 1978 storm they were routinely 50 and 60 degrees below.

For the first time in the 140 year history of the University of Michigan, classes were cancelled. 400,000 homes lost their power. Over 15,000 motorists were stranded.

Governor William Milliken, was so concerned, he called every available National Guardsman to man the streets to help stranded motorists and prevent looting. A total reaching nearly 100,000(not 100, or 1000, but 100,000) cars were left stranded on Michigan roads. Traverse City and other towns were declared “closed,” meaning no traffic was recommended in or out of the municipalities.

As a side note the lowest temperature ever recorded in Michigan was -51, that’s Fahrenheit, not wind chill. That excessively cold temperature was announced on February 9, 1934 in Vanderbilt, near Gaylord. The coldest January on record took place way back in 1875. Lansing recorded one day at -32, and the entire month averaged 4.5 degrees. You think you gotta deal with excessive cold now, imagine trying to live when the temperature is typically below zero every day and electricity is only a concept in the minds of Edison and Tesla.

If you want to watch a really good video that documents the Blizzard of 1978 (good musical score as well) click on this link. It’s well worth 8 minutes of your time.


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