October Surprise Storm – One Year Later

October 12, 2007

Tonight marks the one year anniversary of the start of the October surprise storm. Unseasonably warm weather, followed by a cold front moving in, combined with a very warm Lake Erie led to a heck of a storm that dumped 22 inches of wet, heavy snow on the Buffalo area in 24 hours. Normally, when snow falls, we  just pull our belts tighter, suck it up, and move on with our lives. However, this storm was different. It hit right when the trees were in peak foliage. The entire night of Thursday October 12, 2006 was filled with the thunderous sounds of tree branches snapping under the weight of this snow. It was only on the next morning (Friday the 13th – heh), that the true devastation was realized.

Most of the Western New York area lost power at one point or another, with some people losing power for a week or more. I lost power on the morning of the 13th, and did not regain it until the 17th. I will never forget the relief and excitement I had when I pulled onto my street on the afternoon of the 16th and saw the power crews working on the lines, followed by the sadness when they told us they would not be able to get the work done that night in the dark, and had to come back the following day. The crews that put us back on the grid were from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They said they had never seen anything like what we were hit with.

I was never so glad to go to work in my life on Monday the 16th. Work had heat, a welcome blessing as my house was a balmy 58 degrees that morning. And power. And internet. I was getting a little twitchy without my internet by then. And that was before I discovered the blogosphere!

Not having power was a pretty quick reality check. It got annoying having to run out to the coolers filled with snow and food in the garage when we were ready to eat. Our gas stove top had to be lit by hand when we wanted to cook, since we had pilotless ignition. Thank heavens for Timmy Ho’s, as they were a 24-hour source of hot coffee and bits.

I read by candle and flashlight, going through three Janet Evanovich books in the time I was stuck at home. I sharpened my rummy and Uno skills. We listened to the radio, WBEN became our lifeline to the outside world, telling us what towns were under states of emergency or driving bans. WGR brought us the Sabres games. Listening to RJ call a game against the Rangers, just hearing the excitement in his voice as Drury hat-tricked, it was completely different than any other hockey experience I’ve had in a while.

People truly banded together during this time, Buffalo earned its reputation as the City of Good Neighbors. You helped your neighbor shovel their driveway or clear branches from their property. If you had power, you shared as best as you could.

Eventually, the power came back on, and we all moved on. However, the one thing that has taken the most getting used to is the change in the arborial landscape around Buffalo. 90% of the trees in the Buffalo area suffered damage, and many, many trees were cut down, causing much angst. I won’t go into the politics of the tree cutting down situation, but it is truly saddening to travel around Western New York and see bare spots in what used to be formerly tree-heavy areas.

I do have to commend the people at Carvings for a Cause for coming up with a creative use of the tree debris to fundraise to plant more trees. They’re using the stumps of the large trees (some of which are over 100 years old!) and creating statues that are displayed around Western NY. So far statues of Frederick Law Olmsted, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, a Seneca Indian, a bear, a bass fish, a Buffalo,  Jim Kelly and Chris Berman have been done. These statues are impressive and a sight to see around town.

Couple of pictures from that storm:

The Snow Starts

  • This photo was taken at about 10pm on Thursday, 10/12. We were just starting to get an inkling of what we would be in for during the rest of the night.

Facing North

  • This photo was taken on 10/13, at about 8am. This was about a half-an-hour before we lost power.

Facing South

  • This photo was taken just after the above one, but facing south, towards Hertel.

But We are Buffalo. We made it through. And we will again. God forbid.



  1. Oh, man. It’s hard for me to even look at those pictures. That was such a crazy week.

  2. Holy crap. You guys live in a cold city. I don’t think I’ve seen that much snow in my lifetime, let alone one day!

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