BUFFALO, NY; December 25-30, 2001 – 7-FEET OF SNOW IN 5 DAYS:
When it comes to lake effect no week stands out more to me than Christmas week 2001. As of Monday December 24th, Christmas Eve, Buffalo hadn’t had any snow for the season, not even a trace.
It was the first year on record the city had gone that long without a flake. Later that night the snow started falling and when it ended Christmas Day we had around 25″ on the ground.
We became the talk of the country and on Wednesday we found ourselves doing extra live shots for the network and other stations on the Christmas snow. The sun was out much of the day though in Buffalo as the band drifted north into Niagara County and was hitting them hard and giving us a chance to dig out.
By 4 a.m. Thursday though it drifted south and was back on top of us dropping snow at the rate of 3″ an hour again. Once again we were the talk of the country (remember no real news happens during Christmas week so the networks loved it.)
My wife and I were doing live shots for just about every network (even the financial ones) and tons of local stations around the country. (One of the live shots she did was for a station here in Cleveland and from that came a job offer and that’s how we ended up moving to less snowy side of Lake Erie.)
The storm hit during a time in my career where in addition to anchoring WKBW’s morning show I was a fill-in weather person pushed into full time duty because the station had only one meteorologist working that week. He handled the late shows I handled the early.
Between live shots they asked me to a phone interview with Sam Donaldson on his national radio show. I thought sure I can do this one from my desk where it’s warm.
As I waited his producer asked me if I could wait a minute or two, there were some new developments out of Afghanistan that morning and Sam wanted to get a quick update. I said no problem, I’m good on time.
I sat at my desk with my coat on trying to warm up and actually started to dose off a little as I waited. It was then I heard Sam come on and talk about what happened with Al Quaida that morning. Then I heard him say “joining me now with more on this is John Kosich, President of the National Institute of Military Justice.”
Like a kid called on in class by the teacher the adrenaline rush shot through me “oh crap” I thought. I can talk about travel bans not the Taliban. A heartbeat later Sam recognized his mistake, corrected himself and said “I’m sorry Eugene Fidell, President of the…” Needless to say when Sam came to me a minute or two later I was awake.
When the snow ended Friday we had 84″ of it in five days. Saturday was spent just trying to first find my car then dig it out for the third time this week.
The biggest problem with 7-feet of snow is where do you put it? Buffalo has huge trash cans, I’d fill one up, roll it to an empty spot, dump it, then repeat the process.
Oh and if you wondered what 7-feet of snow looks like? It actually looks like three or four feet because it’s constantly packing down under it’s own weight.
We couldn’t get out of town for New Years until Sunday and even then it wasn’t easy, then as we got 20-30 miles out of town there was hardly any snow, the joy of Lake Effect.
The most awesome thing about that year was the fact that we basically had winter in a week. We had nothing leading up to that storm, we got walloped and then we really had very little snow after it. Maybe one or two 6″ storms but nothing huge.