Would you do anything differently to
make sure you stay safe?
of Colorado most powerful blizzards, The Blizzard of 1982, covered
the city of Denver with several feet of snow on December 24th, 1982.
I was 10 years old then, and delighted to be enjoying winter break
from school. I remember my uncle was in town from the East coast,
and the final round of grocery shopping and preparations for the feast
(and a spectacular raspberry tart!) were to take place on Christmas
Eve. But no one could have expected the scene we awoke to that morning.
The snow had begun to fall on the evening of the 23rd. The snow fell
very quckly. Each hour another inch of snow fell, building up rapidly.
By the morning of the 24th, our car was buried in the driveway, and
snow was piled up against the doors of the house. The wind was blowing
snow into huge drifts that reached the second story of the house.
The power would go out for short periods of time and then come back
on, and wind chill was 30 degrees below zero.
For my sisters and I, this was an adventure. For my parents, it was
a bit of a nightmare. We had to get to the store, so we worked frantically
to uncover the car and a path to the street. My mom and uncle carefully
drove to the store, and were lucky enough to find a nearby market
that was open.
the amount of snow increased dramatically, us kids decided to dig
a tunnel from the back door down a long walkway to the back of the
yard. We were able to get the back door open just enough to sneak
out and begin digging—first with our hands, then using garden
tools. It took several hours to build this remarkable tunnel. My dad
packed the snow firmly for us, to make sure that the tunnel wouldn’t
cave in on anyone.
The tunnel kept us busy for quite some time, but we couldn’t
resist another adventure—jumping off the roof into giant snowdrifts.
My sisters and I snuck out a second story window onto the garage,
and leapt into the huge 10-foot piles of snow on the side of the house.
When my mom got word of this activity, we were promptly steered inside
and got a major scolding.
For my family, the blizzard was not tragic. It gave us kids the opportunity
to explore one of nature’s most powerful phenomena, and spend
some quality time with each other. Many, however, were not so lucky
and spent that Christmas holiday without heat or enough food. Denver’s
Blizzard of ’82 forced the city to develop its first-ever emergency
snow removal plan, one that is still in effect today.