The 1969 NYC storm: Mayor fails to clear roads as Goldie Hawn entertains at JFK
This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.
The weather forecasters confidently predicted rain, wind, and sleet for the Feb. 8-9, 1969 weekend. A nor'easter developed on Saturday the 8th, stalled over New York City on the 9th, and dumped as much as 51 cm of snow across the metropolitan area.
Manhattan during the storm. Courtesy of Wikipedia
This day in weather history is just as much about the actual weather as it is about the city's (lack of) response to the weather. So much so, that NYC's mayor, John Lindsay, had the honour of getting the storm named after him. Less of an honour and likely more of an unwanted label.
“Lindsay's Snowstorm” brought the city that never sleeps to a screeching halt. The roads between New York City and Newburgh were shut down, so hundreds of motorists were trapped on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Thousands of more motorists were stuck on the New York State Thruway.
Courtesy of Daily News
At JFK Airport, 4,000 travellers were stranded. These people didn't have the worst experience. Before heading to the parked planes that were turned into lodging accommodations for the night, the crowd received some impromptu entertainment from Soupy Sales and Goldie Hawn.
Thus concludes the "lucky" people of this storm.
New York shut down. Public transportation couldn't operate, schools couldn't open, sporting events were cancelled, and leaving homes was pretty much out of the question.
The city failed to dispatch any snow-clearing crews on Sunday. City officials finally started clearing the roads on Sunday night but didn't contract any private plowers to help with the immense amount of snow.
Lindsay, who was known for his suave persona, headed to Queens to see the borough that was most severely hit. He travelled via limo.
His limo and some accompanying vehicles could not make it through the unplowed roads. When he emerged from his stuck vehicle, the locals gave them a piece of their New York minds.
It was bad. Doctors couldn't leave their homes to get to emergency calls. People died in their cars from carbon monoxide poisoning. In total, at least 94 people died due to the storm.
To learn more about the impacts of the 1969 nor'easter, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."
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Thumbnail image: New York Mayor Lindsay carrying in his budget. Courtesy of Wikipedia