WEATHER: The Big Freeze

  • Share
  • Read Later

(3 of 8)

In North Yarmouth, Me., where winds had been gusting up to 80 m.p.h., heavy, frozen snow caved through a hockey rink's roof—minutes after 25 youngsters had left. The same heavy snow leveled a horse barn in Windham, Me., but four horses trapped under the snow and twisted metal were dug out alive. Sturdy North Dakotans of Scandinavian descent, long since inured to cold, broke out booster buttons proclaiming: MINUS 40 BELOW KEEPS THE RIFFRAFF OUT. When West Virginia's Governor Jay Rockefeller insisted on being inaugurated outdoors in Charleston's 0° weather, local wags quipped, "We always figured it would be a cold day in hell when a New Yorker would become Governor here." The situation was hardly funny, however, to the 25 inauguration watchers who had to be treated for frostbite.

On an icy hill in Jackson, Miss., Diana Berg flagged down a milk truck and warned the driver against going so fast. "Oh, don't you worry about me," he said. "I'm from Illinois. I can handle this stuff. Want a joyride?" Berg declined, then watched the truck slam downhill into a Volkswagen and another truck. Amazingly, no one was hurt. Says she: "My jaws were frozen into a laugh for about an hour."

As water pipes burst in Little Rock, Ark., one resident remarked, "My basement is flooded and my furnace doesn't work —but we're going to have an ice-skating party in my basement tonight." In Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Circuit Court Judge Clyde

Wells stopped a trial so that everyone could watch the snow fall. Opined the judge: "It's a real novelty."

The elements were simply a challenge to some outdoorsmen —and women. The combination of —23° temperatures and 46-m.p.h. winds on New Hampshire's Mount Washington created a —95° wind-chill factor—but did not stop some hikers from risking their lives on its lower slopes. The same was true in New York's gale-whipped Adirondacks, where Psychiatric Social Worker Bill Myers explained that people went out in such weather just because it was there. Said he: "It's an aggressive response, not a passive response like staying inside with a blanket."

For most who shivered in long Johns or waited up to six hours for tow trucks to pull their cars out of snowbanks, the challenge of the extraordinary winter was something they would prefer to pass up. The weather punished sections of the nation in varied ways, most of them harsh and costly. A tour of the icy American horizon, region by region:


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8