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Weather Updates

Hope for the record — and put 1967 behind us

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



OK, I’ll admit it. I want the record.

Nothing less than 24 inches of new-fallen snow before this storm ends will suffice.

Make it one for the history books.

Maybe that will finally get everybody to let go of 1967.

I know, I know. The Great Blizzard of ’67. The Big One. The storm of the century. This great urban metropolis paralyzed in a sea of white. Fond memories all around.

But the stories are getting as tiresome as living off the glow of the 1985 Bears.

I’m ready for some new memories, a record for the age of living color so that we can finally send those black-and-white photos and film clips to the archives.

Actually, the age of living color already came and went without a new record. Instead, we’ll make it a record snowstorm for the digital era.

You can use your cell phone to e-mail me a photo of the snow drift covering your front door just like the Polaroid your dad took in ’67. Better yet, make a video as you snowboard off the garage roof and onto the snow ramp you’ve built. It will go viral. Don’t tell mom.

Dare I say it, this will be better than ’67, when the only thing going viral was the flu.

“This is NOT going to be like ’67. It could NEVER be like ’67,” harrumphed an old geezer who had wandered into my office Tuesday. This geezer was all of 9 years old when the ’67 storm hit, which doesn’t really make him a geezer, but everybody sounds like a geezer when they say something like that — and I should know.

“In ’67 we didn’t know it was coming,” whined the geezer.

That’s probably true, and the more the pity because the only thing better than a really big snowstorm is a really big snowstorm that takes the forecasters by complete surprise.

It was that surprise element that contributed in ’67 to stranding all those motorists on expressways and in strange neighborhoods where they ended up abandoning their cars. That seems less likely this time.

But the folks at the National Weather Service can’t take all the fun out of this, even with their dire warnings about the storm being potentially life-threatening, not to suggest in any way that you should be doubtful of the danger.

At the moment I write this, the forecasters are predicting only 18 inches. That would hardly be worth the effort of the cleanup.

What’s the problem with shoveling an extra six inches of snow when there’s history to be made for today’s 9-year-olds, so that they can prattle on for the next 44 years about the big snow in 2011 that snapped the cable TV wires and forced them to revert to over-the-air broadcast television while surviving 24 hours without an Internet connection.

The chart in Tuesday’s paper says we got 21.6 inches of snow in 1999, the second-highest total on record, but I have no clear memory of that, and I’ll bet many of you have forgotten that particular New Year’s Day storm that spanned the holiday weekend. It was just another big snowstorm in a lifetime of them. But 24 inches, we would remember that.

“Things have changed since ’67,” persisted the geezer. “People in ’67 did not have snowblowers. It was just paralyzing. You couldn’t go anywhere for days. It’s not going to be like that.”

He’s right. It’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be better.

That is, it will be better until the temperatures drop and the wind blows and the power goes out. It will be better until roofs collapse and those that don’t spring a leak from ice dams.

I peeled the first 2 inches off the sidewalk Tuesday morning, just to get ready. You always want to try to stay one step ahead of a big storm, I told myself.

But that never works out quite as well as you’re expecting when the winds start piling up the drifts, and even before I’d finished, I’d started to lose some of my enthusiasm for this snow. Plus, I’ll get dirty looks from parents if I try to go sledding.

People always ask me if I can just work from home in this job, and I always tell them I probably could, but I’d rather go downtown and see people and get in the flow of the news.

This might be a better day to try my hand at telecommuting.

You can help me do my job by sending me your personal stories of the Great Blizzard of 2011, nothing too dramatic, I hope. Stories of good samaritans, uncommon adventures and unexpected problems will be welcome, along with the obvious: how deep is the snow where you live.

I’ll check in between shifts with the snow shovel.



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