by Kevin Williams
We all, I am sure, no matter where you live, you have your own local weather lore. "The Blizzard of ____". The "Great Flood of _____"... The drought of ___. In my own lifetime, here in southwest Ohio there are several weather events that still cast a long shadow. "The Blizzard of `78'". I STILL hear about "The Blizzard of `78"....but much to my chagrin, I was six years old and living out of the country when it hit. So I may never experience such an event in my lifetime. Oddly, the storm was more of a wind event than a snow event. The "official" snow totals were 6.9 inches in Cincinnati, and 12.9 in Dayton. Decent amounts for sure, but it was the wind that made the event so bad by piling up huge mountains of snow. But I wouldn't know. I was not there. I also have heard a lot through the years about the winter of 1977 being so cold that the Ohio River froze over. My father-in-law actually walked onto the frozen river. Hundreds of people did that winter.
One weather event I was here for was the "Christmas storm" of 2004. We were dumped on with over 20 inches of snow and pretty much marooned for a week so that is one I can tell my kids about.
I also remember the great drought and hot summer of 1988. I was a teenager working at a local amusement park working the Fool the Guesser booth. The scorching sun was so severe I could fry an egg in a skillet on the sidewalk at the park.
But perhaps no weather event casts as long of a shadow as the historic flood of 1913. There are still markers in my downtown that show the flood level.
The flood ravaged towns from Sidney, Ohio to Cincinnati.
After the Great Flood, the Miami Conservancy District was created to hem in the river with a series of dikes and levees and locks and was used as a model for other rivers and the Great Miami River never flooded again in the same way and supposedly never will again. Still, I think in the end, Mother Nature is the boss and I sometimes see the raging Great Miami when it is approaching its banks and I shudder. Someday, I fear, she'll try to reclaim what is hers...
Anyway, if you want a great, gripping read about this event, check out Washed Away. Yes, Geoff, I did read it (that is an inside joke). And you can even order your own copy here!
What "Great" weather events loom large in your area?
This may or may not be weather related, but I firmly believe that there is an earthquake season in California that is somewhat affected by the weather. It seems the worst earthquakes seem to come with the change of seasons - winter to spring and summer to fall.
The Loma Prieta earthquake in October of 1989 was one of the worst earthquakes that I had lived through in all of my 30 years, as I was born and raised in California. It was the night of the World Series - The Battle of the Bay is what it was called. You see, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Oakland A's (Athletics) for the World Series title. Due to this fact, most of the freeways and bridges were not nearly as crowded as usual because everybody wanted to be home to see the game on TV or they were at the stadium. When the massive earthquake hit at 5:04pm, it seemed like our house was going to shake forever. My husband, 6 year-old son and I stood under the door frame and held on as our house rocked like crazy.We watched the entertainment center sway back and forth from the wall about 12 inches and it never fell over, it was unbelievable. Car alarms were going off and the power went off as well. Even though the fault line ran just a few miles from our home, we did not have any damage. When we did finally get power back a few hours later, and television broadcasting was on, we couldn't believe the damage to the bridges and the expressway that pancaked on top of the lower level. Had it been a normal commute evening, there would have been thousands of lives lost. The aftershocks continued for a couple of days and nights, but it was always unnerving when the shaking started. The difference with earthquakes as compared to other weather related storms is that you have NO warning when it is going to happen. Thankfully, we no longer in live in earthquake prone California. We are in Idaho, so now about all we have is a few inches of snow per year. As my sons say, "Nothing EVER happens in Idaho!". I tell them that's why we live here!
Thank you for sharing that story...I remember watching the World Series when that quake happened on live TV. Your story sounds similar to my brother's who live in Northridge during that bad quake....definitely glad things don't shake here (at least much!)
My son had been on the express way just a day or two before the earthquake happened >we live in Wa. state. He was strolling through the living room and glanced over at the t.v. he said Oh mom I was on that express way (the one that collapsed onto the one below) to say the least he was quite shocked. I was thankful it did not happen while he was on it. I felt pain for the families that were involved in that terrible disaster. I guess each state has their share of happenings at one time or another.