I really didn’t want to get snow. It is April 23 for God’s sake. What is wrong you weather people? We can’t have snow this late. I watched the Weather Channel off and on all Sunday, watching them adjust the predicted snow amounts.
First it was 4-6 inches of snow, with up to a foot or more in the higher elevations. After it was all in done with, we could see much more. We were going to lose our electricity because of the weight of the wet, heavy snow on the newly leafed trees. We were told to go to the store and buy a generator. But, whatever you do, don’t place it inside your home. Purchase batteries for your flashlights. Get some candles, because, well, we may not have electricity for days. If you stay home, make sure you have plenty of blankets. Drive to your local supermarket and buy milk and bread, as you may be stuck in your home for a few days.
A friend on Facebook feared it was Zombie Apocalypse time. I agreed. Something was not right. It had to be the Zombies. Or weather men who, despite their expensive techno gear and capabilities to forsee the weather future, still can not pinpoint a damn thing for us. So, although some areas of Pennsylvania and West Virginia got some snow, we did not get the anticpated snow. Actually, none and all.
We got rain. That’s it. Rain. And now, at 5:16, the sun is shining. Bravo, Weather Channel. I’m glad I didn’t go out and buy provisions.
Like I did for the blizzard of 1977.
Ah, the blizzard of 1977. I remember it well.
I was in college, attending Fairmont State College. Now, you have to understand that our college president, Wendall Hardway, would never postpone classes for a weather event. If a bomb dropped on the campus, he would not have postponed classes. I remember two days when the campus did not have water. Honey Badger Hardway didn’t give a shit. Go to class dirty. Stick a scarf on that greasy head. Classes were NEVER postponed or cancelled. Even when the blizzard was approaching.
At the time of the big blizzard of 1977, I was living on View Avenue, in a big white house with four other girls. Paula and Jeri were expecting their boyfriends for the weekend. It was Friday. We all got up that morning and got ready for classes. We had heard about the approaching blizzard, but not really. Now, you have to understand that we didn’t have the Weather Channel back then. We didn’t have the internet that would let us have our very own personal radar screens to check every hour. How cool would that have been? No, we had channel 12, WBOY, and their little studio only had half of a weather map. You could never see what the weather was like out west, because there wasn’t enough room in their little studio for a full sized map. The camera never panned over that way. I know this to be true…… Or maybe it was WDTV. Regardless, we had those stations and the big Pittsburgh stations letting us know that there was a blizzard in the making.
The National Weather Service was predicting a huge winter storm to hit West Virginia. Emergency announcements were being made on the radio stations.
But, we knew school would never be cancelled. Never. I drove my little rusty car, Rusty, up on campus, parked her, and started to walk from the parking lot down the hill to the student union when I saw National Guard trucks driving onto the campus. I will exaggerate and say that there were ten vehicles because I really don’t remember how many there were. I didn’t know why they were there. Maybe it was National Guard Day and they were having a ceremony in the ballroom of the student center.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that something was up. Students were either laughing or upset, scurrying by like little mice trying to find a mouse hole. I stopped a boy who was walking passed me, smiling from ear to ear.
“They are here to shut down the college!” And that’s all he said.
Well, I found out soon enough that Governor Jay Rockefeller had sent in the National Guard to shut down Fairmont State College because Wendell Hardway refused to close the campus. A freaking historic blizzard was on its way and Rockefeller didn’t want anyone traveling home for the weekend in the midst of it. He didn’t want anyone on the streets. National guardsmen were holding bull horns and were driving slowly, telling everyone to go home. A blizzard was coming and the college was shutting down.
The hell you say? I just stood there and stared. Well, this was surreal. This is stuff you see in the movies. Big Jay Rockefeller sent in the big guns to shut down our fair little campus. I bet the honey badger was really pissed..and did give a shit.
Well, I obliged, but first went into our student center, The Nickel, to talk the situation over with everyone. The place was buzzing, but emptying out at the same time. There was a National Guardsman in the Nickel. Wow.
So, I drove home. As soon as I got in the door, my roommate Pat looked at me and said, “We need to go get provisions.” Provisions. Wow. It even sounded serious. There was a freaking historic blizzard racing towards us. Of course we had to get provisions. We immediately hopped in my car and went to the local Dairy Mart.
Well, others must have thought about this too, because the place was jammed. Luckily, we must have gotten there early because there were still a couple of loaves of bread on the shelf and milk in the cooler. So, Pat bought a couple of packs of cigarettes and some pop, and I bought pop and some potato chips. We were ready to be snowed in for weeks. Oh, hell, let’s drive to McDonald’s too.
When we arrived home, our other roommates were beside themselves because their boyfriends were supposed to be on their way. They lived about 2 hours away and were traveling on Interstate 79. Cell phones were not invented yet, so they didn’t hear from them for quite a while. They were supposed to be there by now.
Meanwhile, Pat and I sat on the couch, waiting for the blizzard, looking out the picture window. I was visualizing the boys, Joe D. and Donald, being blown off the interstate by the blizzard. God rest their souls.
The boys never made it. Governor Rockefeller had shut down the interstate. The National Guardsmen, who were everywhere throughout the state that day, had turned them back.
“There’s a blizzard on the way. You better turn back and go straight home.”
The boys turned around and called from a phone booth at the nearest gast station to let Paula and Jeri that they would not be arriving in Fairmont. More provisions for us.
It was early evening by now and we were watching the news. Everyone in the mountain state were off the roads. We braced for the blizzard of the century. Charleston, our state capitol, was a ghost town. No one was on the streets. Rockefeller made sure we would be ready and that the road crews would not have to contend with stranded motorists. The newly inaugurated governor was making his first executive decisions. This blizzard was going to be brutal.
According to WSAZ television:
“It is important for people living in the following counties to understand that throughout this night, they will be on a blizzard alert tonight,” said Rockefeller in 1977.
Blizzard alert. Dear God, there is going to be snow piled up past our doors. Thank goodness Jeri and Paula had bought food for hungry boyfriends or we would starve.
Well, the massive blizzard never came. The wind picked up a little, and perhaps a dusting of snow lay on the ground. I sat on the couch for hours. awaiting its arrival. My mom called to make sure I wasn’t “stupid” and would not venture out in the blizzard. I was not going to drive in a blizzard. I was, however, planning to go outside so I could say I witnessed a blizzard. But, it never came.
Our governor took a ribbing for many years and the blizzard is now called “The Rockefeller Blizzard.” The state of West Virginia actually shut down. The National Guard learned from this mistake and since then does not mobolize until the storm actually hits.
The only one I think that loved the result of the whole blizzard scenario was Fairmont State President, Wendell Hardway. I could just picture him chuckling over the outcome. And I thought of old Wendell when this storm was supposed to hit us this morning, April 23, 2012.
But, you know what? When I heard about the storm approaching, I hopped in my car and went to the Dairy Mart for two- 20 ounce Cokes.