The Blizzard of ’66: Your Stories

On the morning of January 30th, 1966, snow began falling and did so almost continuously for the next 36 hours, finally ending on February 1st. In total, more than 42 inches fell on Syracuse, a record that would stand until 1993. 40-60 mph winds piled up the dense, heavy snow in huge drifts, some as tall as two-story houses. Schools, businesses, and roads were closed for days. Travelers on the Thruway, unable to drive through the deep snow, had to spend the night in Syracuse.126 such people – and a Siamese cat – slept at the War Memorial to wait out the storm. Plows were on the streets day and night, with one in particular driven by Father Clarence C. Schubert of Le Moyne College to help clear snow from campus.

We asked people to send us their stories and Marie Sturge was nice enough to submit her family’s encounter with the storm:

“It was a Sunday and I can’t remember if I went to church or not, but what I do remember is our friend who lived about two miles away came several times during the afternoon and evening to plow us out. We lived off East Taft Road, about two miles from North Syracuse. Like everyone else on our street, we hunkered down and had some good family time together.  I doubt whether my children remember the storm, they were three and five at the time.

When the storm finally ended, my children went to our neighbor’s who lived directly behind us and played on their swing set.  The snow was to the top of the set, so they thought that was pretty neat.  It wasn’t too long when my three year old son came home with only one boot on.  I said, “Ricky, where is your other boot?” He replied, “It’s in the hole by the slide.”  He was totally unconcerned.  I trudged through the deep snow and sure enough, his boot was in the hole; a deep hole.  I had to lay on my stomach in order to reach it but the mission was accomplished.

Another thing I remember is I was doing dishes and felt a presence in front of me.  We had a high kitchen window and when I looked up, there was my backyard neighbor on snow shoes waving to me with a big smile on his face.  His feet were at the base of my window.  I would guess it was close to five feet off the ground.

I saw something that week that I had never seen before or since.  I believe it was on Friday when a grater came down the middle of the street to clear some snow so the snowplows could make it down. Of course, back then, the plows weren’t equipped to plow that vast amount of snow.

The snow was to the top of the ranch houses.  We had a two story home so we could go upstairs and get a good view of the surroundings.  I don’t remember being upset or feeling any anxiety.  I knew sooner or later, we would be dug out.  Our home was warm and we had plenty of food so all was good.”

Thanks to Marie for sharing her memory of this historic storm.