The great Chicago blizzard of 1967: 50 years later

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FOX 32 NEWS - January is usually the snowiest month in Chicago, but this year has been nearly snowless. That isn't always the case, though.

All of the city’s top five blizzards either began or ended in the month of January, and January 26 is a very big anniversary for number one on that list.

Do you remember the Chicago blizzard of 1967?

"People just shut down, the city literally shut down,” said Chicago resident Lois Slovy.

"We had all this congestion, the streets were impassible,” said Frank Wachowski, formerly of the National Weather Service.

On Tuesday, January 24th, 1967, Chicago wasn't worried about snow. The temperature was 65 degrees and severe storms swept across the area, tragically killing one person.

The next day, temperatures plummeted, but the forecast only called for a dusting to several inches of snow.

By Thursday morning, it was apparent this was much more than an ordinary winter storm. It turned into a full-blown blizzard with 23 inches of snow that buried Chicago.

"My husband was downtown for 3 nights, he couldn't drive home, Cars were stranded on the street,” Slovy said.

"What compounded the problem was the strong winds over 50 mph,” Wachowski said.

Walking was impossible and shoveling became deadly, with 60 deaths blamed on the storm. The city grounded to a halt with nearly 50,000 thousand abandoned cars and 800 city buses clogging the streets and expressways for weeks. All trains were stopped and at O’Hare and Midway, giant snow drifts covered the planes and runways. Both airports remained closed for 5 days.

Despite everything bad about the Blizzard of 67, FOX 32’s Dane Placko remembers it was a fun surprise for kids.

"The drifts were so high in the back we were able to use a shovel and tunnel into the drifts, build snow caves and tunnels,” Placko said.

And half a century later, that surprise blizzard of 1967 still tops the list of snow storms in Chicago.