A look back at blizzards in WNY


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It has been more than 20 years since Buffalo has seen a Blizzard Warning. You may not remember the Blizzard of 93 quite as well as other storms, because it gripped us on a weekend and hit much harder east of here in the New York City area. It’s in the history books as one of the most powerful storms of the century, claiming at least 112 lives up and down the east coast. The Thruway was closed from Albany to Buffalo for almost two days, but the snow totals in Buffalo were just 18 inches, compared to 36 inches in Syracuse.

Your memories of the Blizzard of 85 may be much more vivid, because that was a paralyzing storm in which Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin famously urged us all to grab a six pack, sit back, relax and stay home. It’s the storm that pummeled us with 33 inches of snow and 60 mile an hour winds, and the mayor imposed a driving bad so plows could do their word.

News 4’s Jacquie Walker rode with the Mayor Griffin in a Jeep driven by Commissioner Robert Delano as they mayor surveyed the neighborhoods and directed plow crews. Many of our stories from that storm involved Buffalo sealing its reputation as the City of Good Neighbors, with total strangers reaching out to help each other.

The granddaddy of all blizzards of course was the Blizzard of 77. This was the storm that put Buffalo on the map as a snowy outpost in upstate New York, as day after day of network news reports showed a city buried by snow so deep it became the first storm to warrant a federal disaster declaration.

The Blizzard of 77 claimed 29 lives in western New York. Meteorologist Don Paul says this was largely a “ground blizzard,” the snowfall total was just 12 inches, but howling winds near 70 miles an hour, picked up snow from the land and the lake and piled it so high it buried cars and covered houses right up to the rooftops. The Blizzard of 77, hopefully a once in a lifetime storm.

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