Friday, January 15, 2010

The Blizzard of '66

The coldest temperature on record for Syracuse, NY is -26 degrees set on the morning of January 26th, 1966. The historic Blizzard of '66 began the day after, January 27th ...

The Blizzard of '66 is to date the most famous blizzard to hit Oswego, NY and surrounding areas, and holds the record for the most snowfall in a single storm in Oswego, where very snowy winters are taken in stride.
Here is a link to a newsreel on YouTube:

Newsreel: Blizzard of '66

It began as a nor'easter which affected the New York City metro area and was followed by heavy "wraparound" lake effect snows. Winds were more than 60 mph. during the storm and at Fair Haven, New York they are believed to have exceeded 100 mph. The snow was badly drifted and roads and schools closed as long as a week. Drifts covered entire 2 story houses.
A total of 102" of snow was recorded at Oswego, 50" of this falling on the last day of the storm alone. 50" of snow were also recorded at Camden, New York on the same day. The last day of the blizzard the winds subsided and snowburst conditions prevailed, with the snow falling straight down. Fair Haven did not have official snowfall records at the time, but state troopers reported measuring 100" of snow on the level, where none had been prior to the storm. Syracuse, New York received a record snowfall of 42.3" which remained their heaviest storm on record, until the Blizzard of 1993.
The storm lasted from Jan 27 to Jan 31 1966, a total of 4 1/2 days. The daily snowfall totals for Oswego are as follows.
27th 8" 28th 12" 29th 11" 30th 21" 31st 50"
I remember the wind literally howling in off The Pond. It was eerie. It didn’t subside for 4 days. Dad said it was the worst ever and always maintained that no blizzard has topped it since. It was a true blizzard with very high velocity winds and a few feet of snowfall. And it was very cold out. With the temperature outside in the single-digits coupled to the high winds, the wind chill factor was calculated to be 20 below zero at one point. We stayed indoors for a few days, so big deal. We had TV, board games, and comic books. We had snowshoes but no snowmobile. I don’t remember losing power during this one.
At times there were white-outs and we could not see Meyer’s camp across the street just 100 ft. away. The cars in the driveway were quickly and completely buried. A big snow drift kept forming on the roof at back of the house and my Dad had to climb up there a few times during the raging blizzard to clear it off. He would also take a broom to the windows to clear off the snow that the wind had plastered there. The blowing snow got in through the north gable vent in the attic and Dad had to clear it out of the attic too.
It took a few days to dig out and wait for the snow plows and loaders to clear the roads. School was closed for a week. My parents told us to stay off the drifts and snowbanks near the utility poles because they were high enough to enable you to reach up and touch the wires. The drift down by the entrance to Scotty’s Boat Livery measured 13 feet high.


Below is an email from Marie (Mitchell) Reiger. Her dad was Bill Mitchell, previous owner of the original Bayview Hotel.

From: Marie (Mitchell) Reiger
Subject: Blizzard of 66
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 22:05:41 +0000

Steve, I just read your blog about the Blizzard of 66. I remember that I had spent Christmas of 65 in Florida with my folks and flew into Syracuse in January, the day before the blizzard. Don and Dell Price, friends and customers of the Bayview, picked me up at Hancock Airport and drove me up to Sandy Pond. We knew a storm was coming so they turned around and drove right back to Syracuse. I remember waking up to drift after drift of snow in the road at the pond. Customers came by foot to the hotel. Ronnie Whisnant did plow the parking lot with his jeep. He had to come for his daily coffee!!
I was to begin college at SUNY at Oswego as a transfer from Hartwick College in Oneonta. Jack and Edie Castor were running the Bayview Hotel while my folks were in Florida. I missed a week of school before Jack took me over to Oswego to begin school. The snow was up to the second floor of all the buildings at the college. We had to tunnel into buildings to go to class.


Hi Marie -

Wow that's quite a story!

Yes' I remember pictures in the newspapers of the the tunnels on the streets of Oswego. Ronnie Whisnant also plowed us out (eventually). He had that red and white Jeep and he knew how to use it. My Dad shot some 8mm movies after the blizzard that I haven't processed yet, but I will post them soon.

I plan to be ice fishing on The Pond the coming weekend of Feb. 20 with my brothers Kip and Pete and friends. I hope I don't have to deal with a blizzard like this!

Do you mind if I add your email to the posting?



Hi Steve, Sure you can post my email. Have fun ice fishing. Do you know Tim Pauldine? He and his wife have a cottage near us but live in Oswego. Tim drives up to Sandy Pond every weekend and checks our cottages. He was up there two weeks ago. He said there were over 100 ice fishermen and it was really snowing hard. Hope you have good luck. Marie


  1. Oh the good ol' days...I used to kick it around SP from the mid 70's to early 80' did we have a good time...I remember the bands playing behind the bayview...



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