The Insane Winter Storm

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThe winter of 1979. I remember my mother and I having to dig out almost three and a half feet of snow from our house driveway so that my father could get into the driveway. By some miracle he managed to get home. He was completely exhausted from driving and slept for the next 12 hours. We were just happy to have him home safe. I remember winters normally were nowhere near as bad as that. We would have maybe a foot or so of snow, and then the temperatures would remain somewhere in the 20’s Fahrenheit so we did not suffer from the extreme cold. The year 1979 was different. After a record breaking snow then, we would have sub-zero temperatures for a couple of days and we did our best to stay warm in our house. I do not think we had for the most part a winter that bad since.

Fast-forward to December 2022, and it felt like 1979 all over again. Although we did not really get three feet of snow, what happened was that the wind got so strong that it blew huge snowdrifts all over the place, and this was especially true on the highways. Sometimes there were snow drifts five feet up, and nothing could move around that. This is what happened to my wife and I when I tried to take her to work on December 23rd. Against my better judgement, we went into that kind of storm. At first, the roads seemed clear and we had no problem with visibility. Then as we turned a corner, a huge wind of snow kicked into our windshield and I could not see. Just then we hit a five foot snow drift. We were stuck, I managed to reverse the minivan and get out of it. Then suddenly we ran into another snow drift. We were again stuck. By some miracle I got us out of that, but as I got out we hit an ice sheet and slid into a fairly deep ditch. The minivan was slightly tilted on its side and there was no way to get out. We were stuck.

I got out my cell phone and called 911. I was told that another 20 vehicles were stuck on the same road, and they would try to get to us. So, we waited. We tried to stay warm, but even with the heat on the -3 Fahrenheit temperature was playing havoc with the inside temperature of the minivan. Almost one hour after we got stuck, an all-terrain police truck came and an officer managed to pull my wife and I out of the minivan. It was a bit hard getting out as the minivan was slightly tilted and only the front passenger door would open because the other doors were either buried in the snow or frozen shut. First the police officer managed to get my wife into the truck, and then helped me get into the truck. He told me that he could do nothing for my minivan at the time, and that he could only take us home since it was the safest option. We simply went home.

Fortunately, I called a car repair place I know and they managed to get my minivan out of the ditch and back to our home. I tested the minivan, and miraculously it worked. There was nothing broken. So we survived that winter. The next day, with the roads cleared, I took my wife to work. A lot of young people today were not around in 1979, so they would not know about that incredibly BAD winter. It is one I have certainly not forgotten, and now I have dealt with something similar. At this point I am counting my blessings as my wife and I celebrated Christmas and will soon see the old year out.

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