Snowstorm of December 17-19, 1929

November 16th, 2012 at 9:48 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

A major snowstorm struck the viewing area & a huge region from Texas to Michigan with a major ice storm in the Northeast U.S. December 1929.  While record-breaking snowfall occurred in Texas with up to 26″, heavy snowfall fell in the Midwest & Great Lakes.  20.5″ at West Lafayette to 14″ at Detroit, a major ice storm caused a lot of damage in western New York.  Flurries fell as far south as New Orleans & snowfall banding occurred from Arkansas to Missouri.

Very impressive, intense frontogenetical banding appears to be the culprit behind the extreme totals in parts of the storm.

Totals went from trace to 26″ within 30 miles in central Texas, while the 20.5″ in West Lafayette occurred, 7″ fell in Kokomo.  The heavy snow in our area & the intense, mesoscale frontogenetical banding was accompanied by persistent, strong winds, which led to lots of drifting.  Although this storm appears to not have reached quite to true blizzard criteria, this was the worst storm in the viewing area, specifically West Lafayette & Lafayette, since the Blizzard of 1918 ( low pressure bombing in northwestern Ohio then, like the great Cleveland bomb of 1978 [Blizzard of 1978]).

Tom Spearback, local weather historian & author, had some great information on this storm:

The Big snow of Wednesday December 18, 1929.  After over a week of constant cloudy weather without even a glimpse of the sun, and nearly daily rains, the weather grew colder on Tuesday night and by morning the persistent rain had turned to snow.  From 4:30pm Dec. 17 to 4:30pm Dec. 18, 14 inches of snow fell and from 4:30pm Dec. 18 to 4pm Dec. 19 another 6.5 inches of snow fell.  Most people in Lafayette didn’t have any idea what was coming.   People got up Wednesday morning Dec. 18, 1929 and went to work and school.  About 70 students of the Montmorenci school spent the night in homes there and 13 boys slept in the school.  16 students and 8 teachers of Klondike spent the night at that school.  At Wea school 30 students and 4 teachers spent the night at that school.  Some buses started out and got stuck in the snow and children had to spent the night at nearby farm homes.  Schools were to close Friday for the holidays but the vacation started early for some students. 

A Funeral Party and corpse were caught in the Dec. 1929 storm.  Newton Trickey, 88 died Monday and was to have been buried Wed. in Rainsville cemetery and was still not buried Saturday.  The funeral party got stuck in the snow and they all had to spend a night at farm homes and after walking more than five miles, finally got back to the city 24 hours later.  People in the deep South also felt this storm.  Light flurries were reported as far south as Apalachicola Florida.  The Apalachicola weather bureau said the snow was the first in that town’s history.  New Orleans saw its first flurry in more than a quarter of a century.  Georgia and Alabama also saw snow.  An electrical storm preceded the snow in Greenwood, MS.

A funny story about the storm of December 18, 1929.  In downtown Michigan City, pedestrians were startled when several articles of women’s undies swept past them in front of a cold wintry blast.  The garments were part of a window display from a department store in which a large plate glass was blown out.



 MANY HAVE OWN STORIES OF DIFFICULTIES IN STORM Out of the temporary paralysis of automobile traction and road traffic caused by the mendous fall of snow Wednesday came many stories of individual and difficulties An out- standing feature was the good tured manner in which victims of snow drifts and the blizzard their temporary fate and awaited the arrival of wrecking and two cars from garages in kokomo and surrounding towns and cities Garage men worked far into the nigh Wednesday night and all Thursday morning pulling stalled automobiles to the city and others out of drifts on traction cars reached their destinations hours late. The mail service was delayed considerably and Postmaster Morton Lamb said he believed the storm would delay the mails a day or two. This will mean a deluge of Christmas mail upon the post office force not only in Kokomo but in other cities of the state. The Chicago train from the north due in Kokomo at 2 o’clock arrived at four. Henry Krippenstapel living at park walked four and one-half miles to the city to work Thursday morning. It took him two hours and he came through drifts knee deep some of them a quarter of a mile long. He passed about thirty automobiles buried in snow drifts. A truck of the Bloom dairy was turned over west of the Howard County hospital and some of the milk spilled. Rural mail carriers left the office at [?] o’clock Thursday morning equipped with shovels and prepared to fight their way through drifts. The highways were more or less cleared by noon and passage was more accessible. On the West Jefferson street road a force of thirty or more men was engaged in clearing the road for passage of repair trucks. Indiana Bell Telephone company Toll lines on the road were out of commission and the trucks and crews were sent to strengthen them. Many automobiles formed lines and using their with bumpers pushing one another through the drifts with the first machine breaking the track huddled around heaters in their cars caught some while waiting for wrecking cars. Outstanding were the tireless forts of employees of the Tribune in the task of delivering the paper Wednesday. R G Nicholson, motorcyclist carrier for the Tribune, was [?] by the deep drifts near fall and had to abandon his attempt to break through. He stayed all night at a farm house. The entire corps of Tribune carrier boys in the city struggled through the deep banks of snow to place their papers at doors. Only a possible thirty subscribers were missed and they are residents of the Darrough chapel neighborhood. The Tribune carrier in that district, Charles Hunt, got as far as the city limits and could go no farther. A number of snowbound subscribers telephoned the Tribune and commented on paper the determination of the young carriers. Some did not receive their papers telephoned and asked that the boys be spared the task of penetrating the drifts. Edward Dunn, carrying the Tribune to Alto and other parts of the county was stopped three times by the dense drifts. He said many of the houses in his territory were invisible from the road. Farmers everywhere were awakened at night and joined in the work of freeing the entrapped. Ward Wiltse, rural mail carrier, living three miles south of Kokomo had his machine dug out of the snow in attempting to reach the city Thursday. The Mast Ware ambulance of Greentown bringing Dr H C Miller Greentown back from an Indianapolis hospital, where he has been ill for some time, was forced to transfer the patient to an interurban so that he could be taken home. William Lewis, a city mall carrier whose home is in Greentown, left Kokomo at 9 o’clock on the N I P traction car and reached Greentown at midnight. Sam Abramson, of Northern Indiana er company sales force, drove to Lebanon and Noblesville in the blizzard and was forced to return to Kokomo on the traction line from Noblesville. G E Vaile of Indianapolis was crowded off the road four and three-fourths miles east on Road 18 in a snow bank three or four feet deep. More than a dozen cars were stuck in the ditch there. Walter Hare, salesman for the Indiana Farmer’s ed, into Kokomo from Greentown where his car had stuck in a drift. Hundreds of similar experiences were reported by Kokomo citizens who were stopped by the snow not only on highways but in their garage approaches as well.


Enveloped by Worst Storm In Recent Years

The four horsemen of the elements snow wind hail end zero temperatures continued their rampage throughout the area bringing death, isolation, crippled transportation and misery to thousands and property loss running into millions of dollars.  Indiana was staggered by the worst storm in more than 11 years with snow continuing since Tuesday night and no relief predicted until late tonight.  Cyrus Hupp, 57, wealthy resident’s neatless body was found in the ruins of storm. The blinding storm swept down from the frozen wastes of the Canadian northwest in a direction.  Its fury is spent enroute it should reach the Atlantic sea board tonight or early tomorrow.  All forms of transportation highway, air, rail was at a standstill through a wide section today.  Automobiles were abandoned where they stalled in huge driftsThe State Highway had 100 snow plows out in an attempt to partially open the most important highways.  Two of four dead were frozen in homes.  Schools are Dismissed in Rural Sections Many Left Stranded at School Building and Roads are Still Today the result 01 me surrounding counties are out blizzard Indiana this after being snowbound by the worst noon was digging itself out and electrical lines and electrical lines out of service today weather and rural residents clear the roads of the drifts that in many traffic completely But few of the rural cases pupils are being returned to today after having been forced to remain at the schools or in neighbors homes during the night.  As the sun burst through the afternoon for the first time in more than a week it cam its rays on a mantle covered the state from the Great Lakes to the Ohio river.  a foot of snow fell the The Icy It up in drifts 12 Feet In northern Indiana more than ten in the southern parts of the state that blockaded highways which were dotted with hundreds and hundreds of automobiles stalled in the deep driftsThe motorists in most cases were forced to seek shelter in farm houses.  Rural schools in northern and southern Indiana were shut down.  Bus, trains and traction lines were not running.  While in Carroll County a large number of the pupils remained at the school buildings. School Hack Charles English’s truck became stalled near the B F Oram farm northeast of the city with seven pupils remaining.




3 Responses to “Snowstorm of December 17-19, 1929”

  1. Ryan H says:

    Puts me in Snow mode….. I’m ready!

  2. Chad Evans says:

    I thought this would perk you up Ryan! We are all looking forward to snow & ice forecasting time soon together!

  3. Mary Anne Best says:

    Wow…quite the story of this huge snow storm!! Thanks, Chad!

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