My parents didn't live in Whatcom County during the "Storm of the Century" in January 1950, but I'm sure they heard about the month-long inundation of freezing temps, broken pipes, disconnected power and phone lines, and cancelled school. Certainly I heard about the hazards of bad weather when I was growing up there in the 1960's and 1970's....and was dismayed enough to develop my own healthy loathing for winter in the Swamplands.
|1950: This milk truck is utterly stuck |
To see more pictures of the 1950 "storm of the century", click the photo.
The winds blew down telephone lines throughout the county. Half of all phones didn't work. Crews worked around the clock to restore service, their work complicated by the tangled frozen lines. The crews abandoned a phone company truck, one and one half tons, when it became buried in the snow.and
Using rotary plows, bulldozers and road graders, work crews slowly opened highways and roads to small towns in the county. Grateful folks brought coffee, cocoa and sandwiches to the drivers as the equipment crept slowly past their homes.
In some places the county hired logging trucks to push the snowplows. They chained the two together, old tires tied to the bumpers of the logging trucks to protect both vehicles.One more:
A supply of milk trucks, fuel and baked goods and State Patrol vehicles inched behind two bulldozers from Bellingham, reaching Everson at midnight. The convoy continued to Sumas, passing our house on the way, completing the seven-mile trip in five hours.
Farmers were particularly hard-hit by the storms. Milk trucks from the Arden plant in Everson, and Darigold in Lynden, couldn't travel the roads to pick up milk from dairy farmers. Milking machines, powered by electricity, were inoperable during periods of power failure, but in those days herds were small and could be milked by hand.You can read the entire article online HERE.
Farmers poured the milk into 10-gallon cans where it froze, popping off the lids; stored it in their bathtubs; or just dumped it. They lost several days of production.
On chicken farms, the brooders couldn't be heated and thousands of chicks perished. The Nielsen family provided water for their chickens, drawing it by hand from their wells, pouring it into 10-gallon milk cans and pulling it on a sled to the chicken coop. Their flock was ready to go into production when the first storm hit, but without light or heat, the chickens were forced into molt.
This account makes me grateful for:
- A certified woodstove and R-30 insulation in the roof, which keeps our house at 74 degrees through the cold weather. The woodstove also gives us a way to cook potatoes (delicious!) and boil water to thaw the livestock water tanks when the power goes out.
- My kids, who keep the woodbox full!
- A goodly supply of lamp oil, and a Scrabble board
- 4-wheel drive...and a tractor...and Jim, who drives the tractor with minimal cussing
- Cell phones, which allow me to call work and say "nope, not coming in" for several days in a row!
- My horse, who is always willing to haul me through the weather. (I was pleased that she didn't have to do anything this time except look pretty and eat hay.)
Especially when the weather doesn't require a shovel.