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The Blizzard of 1969
February 8-10, 1969

Known as the "Lindsay Storm", this blizzard paralyzed the metropolitan areas of New York and Boston for three days, from February 8th to February 10th, 1969. The storm consisted of two areas of low pressure. One in the Ohio Valley which had weakened after moving through the Rockies, while the other one was forming off the coast of Virginia. This secondary low pressure area intensified rapidly and moved up the east coast to Cape Cod. The heaviest snow fell in a band from the New York City area to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Both New York and Boston received their fair share of snow with over 20 inches apiece.

My own experience of this storm was a series of singular events. Just two weeks into a new full-time job at IBM in Cambridge, Mass., I had flown down to Laguardia Airport on the Eastern air shuttle, visiting for the weekend at my parents' home in Pelham Manor, New York. When the storm descended on the area, getting back to Boston was something of an adventure...

The airports were closed, of course, so I decided to take the train. Pelham is the last train station outside of the city, just 31 minutes from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. A brave taxi cab driver took me to the Pelham station, swimming through 8 inches or more of snow on the ground with more coming down heavily. I caught the train into the city, heading for the express train from Grand Central to Boston's South Station.

In New York I waited in line for my ticket to Boston; the station was busy but not jammed. By chance I overheard the person behind me in line was also going to Boston, but he was turned away -- the train was full, and I had gotten the last ticket! I found out later that my train inbound was the last train that came into Grand Central that day, and the train to Boston was the last train that left -- the station was closed by the storm, an almost unheard-of event.

The storm pounded the Northeast. Bedford, Massachusetts recorded 25 inches of snow, New York City had 20 inches, and Portland, Maine ended up with 22 inches. The storm got its nickname from John Lindsay, the Mayor of New York City at the time. His poor handling of the events before, during, and after the storm made many New Yorkers angry with him, and it all but devastated his re-election chances. His snow removal crews were slow to respond because of inaccurate weather forecasts, and sections of New York City remained unplowed for a week after the storm.

On the train to Boston we all felt a bit lucky; no other transportation was moving. At first I could not find a seat, but outrageous coincidence played its hand again -- in the next car I ran into Fred Abramson and his fiancee. Fred and I were college roommates in the Spring of 1967, and I had shared an off-campus apartment with him that summer. The three of us talked and shared snacks and took turns sitting and standing as the unexpected hours went by.

The train stopped twice for an hour or more between New York City and New Haven to let the railroad plows clear the track ahead of us. What was normally a 4- to 5-hour trip stretched into 9 1/2 hours -- an overnight adventure ride through a major blizzard, but we made it! We arrived about 6:30 in the morning at Boston's Back Bay Station, greeted by clearing skies and bright sunshine and almost two feet of snow on the ground. By chance I had gotten the last train into New York, then the last ticket on the last train to leave!

-- Dave Tuttle

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Copyright 2003 by David B. Tuttle
This page updated 07-Apr-2003