Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Record Storm Dumps 26.5" of Snow on Erie

"Snowstorm Cripples City"
"Mayor Declares State of Emergency Here." 
"PA Equipment is Sought for Snow Removal in City"
"More Snow Due as City Digs From Under Record Snowfall"

Was this the big Thanksgiving 1956 snowstorm? Not even close. 

"For us here in Erie the granddaddy still seems to be December 11-12th, 1944. That was the snowstorm that produced the record for the most snow in 24 hours in Erie…26.5". People still talk about it to this day," said Tom Atkins, meteorologist at WJET-TV in Erie, PA. 

That's more than two feet of snow, falling at more than one inch per hour. 

The stories are incredible. A 5' snow drift blocked the doors at Eckerd's and other stores in the 1100 block of State Street. A Erie Coach Company snowplow got stuck in a drift at 10th and State. Motorists were stranded all over the City of Erie. Most streets were impassible. If that wasn't bad enough, the snow kept falling….and falling. On Dec. 14th, officials at area shops that were involved in the war effort asked the government to send tractors to clear the roads. Erie Mayor Charles R. Barber declared a state of emergency on Dec. 15th. There were reported shortages of milk, bread and coal.

Back in those days, you didn't go to Dairy Queen to get a Blizzard. You just stepped outside.

One little girl made a grand entrance into the world. "Dr. Louise G. Brecht enlisted police aid in battling her way to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Harkins, 2916 French St., where [a] baby girl was born at 11:40 a.m. after an ambulance failed to get through. Unable to drive her car, Dr. Brecht called for a police cruiser, which was able to take her only to 26th and State Streets, from where she walked, arriving a full hour before the event."

Do you remember where you were 69 years ago today? Click here to share your story. 

For the latest weather report check out WJET-TV. Thanks to Tom Atkins and Jill McCormick for the Old Time Erie plugs during the Fox 66 TV and WJET TV weather trivia segments on Dec. 11, 2013 and again on December 12, 2013.

Enjoy more memories of Erie from the warmth of your home at: Old Time Erie


  1. I would have been 2 years 9 months old and living in a trailor just off of East Lake Road, fairly close to GE. Back then East Lake Road started out as East 6th street when leaving from 6th and State St., however, I don't remember the snow storm. Now the one around Thanksgiving, 1956, with 27" of snow . . . . yeah Baby! What a fun time. I was 14 for that one.

  2. Herman Bernhardt: I was 6 years old living at 821 West 24th Street. I remember the Army tank opening West 26th street(route 20) to open the streets in Erie.

    1. I'd love to see a picture of that tank. What a neat memory.

  3. I was 21 months old and my parents had moved me from 17th & Liberty (behind Hector's) to a farm near Westfield NY. I can remember we walked in a trench the sides of which were over my Mom's head to the outhouse. From the Outhouse we walked through a tunnel to the barn. Needless to say, Mother, raised in Little Italy moved me back to Erie as soon as the thaw hit.

    1. Good for her, Gene. I bet your father never heard the end of it!