14 Years Ago Today: The October Surprise Storm [PHOTOS]
There are a few events in Buffalo's history that are as or more memorable than the October Surprise Storm.
14 years ago today, a very (and that's an understatement) unusual snow storm hit parts of the Buffalo region that dumped an unbelievable amount of lake effect snow during the afternoon and evening of Thursday, October 12th, 2006, that lasted into the early morning hours of Friday, October 13th.
The National Weather Service named it Lake Storm Aphid, but everyone in Buffalo refers to it as the October Surprise Storm.
Its name comes from the fact hardly anyone was aware a snow storm like that was going to hit the area that day. The National Weather Service said it was by far the earliest lake snowstorm event in a winter season since keeping track of data reaching back well over 100 years.
Forecasters thought snowfall could happen in the days leading up but it wasn't until the morning of October 12th that it became evident a major snowfall event would take place, but by then it was too late.
Many Buffalonians in the hardest hit areas were caught by surprise and woke up to a nightmare on Friday morning -- to the sight of down tree branches and powerlines everywhere, and I do mean, everywhere...
Over 400,000 people lost power by the morning of Friday, October 13th and a good portion of that number went without power for a week or longer.
The suburbs with the most snowfall was Depew (24 inches), Alden (24 inches), Cheektowaga (22 inches) and North Buffalo (20 inches).
Parts of Amherst saw upwards of 20-22 inches, while other parts saw 14 inches. Many suburbs saw at least 10-12 inches of snow.
15 people died during the October Surprise Storm event, along with 200 others hospitalized because of carbon monoxide poising, due to running generators inside homes.
I'll never forget that week to 10 days. My family was living in Amherst and we went without power for about 10 days. We stayed in a hotel in Niagara Falls for a couple days, since they saw hardly any snow. That was another weird aspect of this freak snowstorm, is the fact some areas of Western New York were completely untouched.
I distinctly remember the sound of cracking branches all evening when the storm hit and the green or purple lightning in the sky.
I'll also never forget the sound of all the generators in the neighborhood in unison. The sound of chainsaws from neighbors cutting large branches to help each other out. Some offering to travel to houses to cut branches and shovel out driveways.
I remember a travel advisory on October 13th but I don't think anyone listened, because nobody knew it was coming, so you saw countless people searching Wegmans', Tops' and gas stations for food, supplies and gas, which was NOT easy to find. Generators were sold out at many stores, too.
It was a challenging week or two but it really showed how awesome this town is. So many people helping each other out. I doubt we ever see a storm like that again, but hey, you never know here...