The following article was published in the Abilene Reporter newspaper in Abilene, Texas on Friday, 23 November 1956. My maternal grandfather, Jack Pruette, who lived in Winters (near Abilene), sent the clipping to my mother, Lois Pruette Kerr. We lived in Summit Township where we were snowbound for several days.
Storm Paralyzes Lake Erie Port
Erie, Pa.â€”A freak storm which included lightning, thunder and winds up to 45 miles an hour buried this lakeport city under a two-foot snowfall today.
The community of 130,000 on the shore of Lake Erie was virtually isolated. Traffic was paralyzed. All public transportation was stopped.
Practically all industries closed as workers couldnâ€™t get to their jobs.
Main traffic arteries, including Routes 5 and 20â€”the Buffalo-to-Cleveland routesâ€”were plugged tight.
The heavy snowfall, which began early yesterday, stopped about 4 a.m. today except for scattered flurries.
The Weather Bureau said the snowfall in midtown Erie measures 24 inches from 3 a.m. yesterday to 4 a.m. today. At Erie Airport, where all flights were canceled, the fall was estimated at 33 inches.
Amazed residents watched lightening bolts flash across the sky, accompanied by loud claps of thunder, as the storm raged through the night. Gusts of wind up to 45 miles an hour made visibility zero.
Banks announced they wouldnâ€™t open today. Few stores were expected to open.
Many small communities were shut off from milk deliveries.
The storm, moving in from Lake Erie, extended about 50 miles west into Ohio and all along the shoreline east to Buffalo, N.Y.
â€œItâ€™s a real mess,â€ said William J. Pope, Erie County highways superintendent. â€œSome of my snowplow crews are fighting drifts on main roads which are up to seven feet high.â€
Snow squalls, riding 25-mile-an-hour winds, piled up from eight inches to two feet of snow in western New York State.
Springville in northern Erie County recorded a two-foot snow fall and virtually isolated the village, which is located about 30 miles southeast of Buffalo. Villagers opened their homes to nearly 100 stranded holiday travelers and hunters. Emergency quarters were set up on the town hall.
A similar storm lashed off the eastern end of Lake Ontario and dropped up to eight inches in the Adirondack Mountains near Watertown.
Hundreds of highway crewmen fought a losing battle to clear the roads. Visibility was zero as wind gusts up to 40 miles an hour filled the air with snow.
All public transportation was halted in Erie. Police used chain equipped cruisers for emergency hospital cases. Many nurses stayed on duty overnight.
Practically all industries in Erie closed down. General Electric Co., employing about 10,000, was first to announce it would make no attempt to operate today.
The city of Ashtabula in the northeast corner of Ohio had 20 to 24 inches and drifts up to five feet. It was worse in adjacent Conneaut, Ohio, which was snow-bound.
Fairview, a community of about 3,000, 10 miles west of Erie, was caught in the worst of the storm. Ernest Sesto, proprietor of the Fairview Hotel and restaurant, took in close to 250 persons overnight. There are only 26 rooms in the hotel.
â€œTheyâ€™re sleeping 3 to 4 to a bed,â€ Sesto said. â€œTheyâ€™re on tables, in the booths and on the floors. Weâ€™re even using tablecloths for blankets.â€