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Nadworny: The Big Snow

01/25/11 5:55PM By Rich Nadworny
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(HOST)  When it comes to extreme weather, commentator Rich Nadworny says he'll take a snowstorm any day.

(NADWORNY) The big winter storms blowing across the Northeast this winter remind me of the then record snowfall we had in Burlington at the end of 1969, when I was a kid.

It started snowing on Christmas Day. For three days the snow kept on coming, dumping more than 30 inches of snow on us. We all went out to shovel the driveway the next day, not that it made much difference - because we couldn't drive in the unplowed streets. We made some home movies of the storm. I threw snowballs at my elder, shoveling brothers, and they tossed me in the snow banks.

There's one picture from the side of the house where the snowdrifts are well over 6 feet high! In one shot, our neighbor, who owned the only snow blower on the street, is trying to blow out a path to our back door, and the drift is well over his head.

Luckily, one of the younger dads on the street owned a pair of cross-country skis, which was unusual in the 60's. He hooked up a sled to his back and for the next few days trekked up to the Grand Union to buy provisions for the whole street.

I grew up on one of the smallest streets in Burlington, and somehow the snowplows either forgot us or just missed us because of the amount of powder. Even after three or four days, and they had plowed all of the other streets, ours remained covered. Finally, the city sent out a road grader; you know, those long machines with a blade underneath? But that was the only way to clear the street out!

Well, we kids had already tunneled like moles before the grader came. But when it was done the snow banks were so high you couldn't even see the street. For us diggers, it was like the Great Escape. It's kind of amazing that no one was buried alive, or that our parents let us dig; but dig we did, creating the most amazing snow tunnel system I've ever seen.

Usually when we think of extreme weather, we think of terrible things. Too much wind and you get hurricanes or tornadoes. Too much water and you get flooding or tsunamis. Too much heat and you get people dying from heat exhaustion. Extreme weather usually means damage and suffering. And while too much snow can complicate travel and cause structural damage, like collapsing the dome in Minnesota recently, it's probably the one extreme weather event that produces more fun memories than any other weather-related disasters.

Just ask anyone who lived through the Boston Blizzard of '78. Most everyone has one or two funny stories from that week.

There's something about big snowstorms that brings us together, even if we're stuck inside for days. It's comforting, in some way. Maybe that's why they call it a "blanket."
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