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1967 Chicago Blizzard

Thursday, January 26, 1967
Chicago Blizzard of 1967
Where were you when the snow hit?


The Chicago Blizzard of 1967 struck northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana on January 26, 1967 with a record-setting 23 inches (58 cm) of snow falling on Chicago and its suburbs before the storm abated the next morning. To this day, it is the worst blizzard in Chicago history.

The snow fell continuously on Chicago from 5:02 am on Thursday, January 26 until 10:10 am Friday when 23 inches had fallen. The storm played havoc with commuters, stranding thousands of people and leaving an estimated 800 Chicago Transit Authority busses and 50,000 automobiles abandoned on the city streets and expressways. Incidents of looting took place: in one incident, a ten year old girl was fatally wounded when she was caught in a gun battle between police and looters. In another incident, a man died after being run over by a snowplow. Altogether, 26 Chicagoans lost their lives in the blizzard, many from heart attacks brought on by shoveling snow. There were over 50 storm-related deaths in the metropolitan area.

The blizzard closed both Midway Airport and O'Hare Airport. Ten-foot drifts covered the runways at Midway. Thousands of travelers and airport workers were stuck in the terminals by the storm. Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley ordered city workers to clear streets around the clock and asked citizens for help. On Friday, the city was virtually shut down and area schools closed.

On Tuesday, January 24 the high had been an unseasonably warm 65°F. But the temperature started falling the next day. The Chicago area started to recover from the extreme snowfall over the weekend, then it snowed four more inches on Wednesday, February 1. The following Sunday, February 5, another storm dumped ten inches. The 23 inches of snow that fell on Chicago on the 26th and 27th is a record for a single storm. The 19.8 inches (50.3 cm) that fell on January 26–27 is the greatest amount of snow for a 24-hour period. The single day record of 16.4 inches (41.7 cm) for January 26 was later broken by the Chicago Blizzard of 1979 when 16.5 inches (41.9 cm) fell. Between January 26 and February 5, 36.5 inches (92.7 cm) of snow fell, which is typical for an entire Chicago winter. Gusts of up to 53 miles per hour caused large snowdrifts to accumulate.