Winter Snow Storms

Winter Snow Storms

A popular topic in LeRoy is the weather. Our Central Illinois location has given folks plenty to talk about from extreme snow storms and freezes to flooding and tornados. The early part of the 2014-2015 weather has set records for mild temperatures and large amounts of rain. Let’s take a look at some of the notable winter weather stories through the years.
Chronicles of the early days, 1830-31, tell of deep snow. Persons caught out in it had to rely entirely upon the instincts of their horses or ox teams to find their way back home. Wolves caused more trouble than anything else, coming right  up to the houses to steal pigs, chickens and sheep. They destroyed much of the wild game the people needed for food. During the winter of the big snow many many wild animals perished but the wolves seemed more plentiful than ever. On moonlit nights people could step to their cabin doors and see them frisking about in the snow. Deer, with their sharp hooves cutting through the crusted snow, were an easy prey for the wolves. Wolf hunts were the main sport of the day, one farmer even trained hounds to catch them.
In December 1936 a sudden change in weather from 40 degrees above to 20 degrees below zero, accompanied by a high wind from the west, froze water on the fields in waves. Horses out in it had an inch of ice on their skins and harness so stiff it couldn’t be removed until the next day. Hiram Buckles’ overcoat billowed out from his so stiffly frozen he couldn’t get through the door. Salt Creek was frozen clear to the bottom and was bank full. As other water flowed over it, ice froze in tiers five feet above the banks.
In the aftermath of the big storm of December 1924 telephone and light companies suffered heavy losses. The telephone line to Bellflower had 175 poles down about one half of them. There was an effort on the part of the farmers to organize to help raise the poles as soon as the ice was off. The loss was appalling, with an estimate of $25,000 to put the LeRoy Exchange in normal shape. People in the city were back to the old days of the candles and kerosene lamps. Candles are scarce. The stores who sold Kodak films were soon depleted of their stocks and could not supply the demand for those who wished to get pictures of the work of the storm.
In 1936 northern blasts brought 25 degree below zero weather. It snowed to a depth of three inches and the snow which had fallen previously whipped by a strong gale started a blizzard which lasted until around noon the next day. Snow blockades practically stopped traffic on the highways. The garages were busy getting cars out of drifts and going to the relief of frozen cars. LeRoy was fortunate in not having any fires from overheated furnaces or stoves, or severe suffering on account of the cold reports. J.E. Denny had his faze frozen when walking a mile back to town after his car was stuck in a snow bank south of town. Clifton Buckles, mail carrier, had to lay over for the day at a farm house. At times the air was so full of whirling snow that vision was limited to short distances.
Barricades were put up Sunday evening (January 1964) at the west edge of the city and traffic to Bloomington was not restored until 2:40 p.m. Monday when a bulldozed completed re-opening of the route. For almost 24 hours there was no traffic of any kind between LeRoy and Bloomington.
In 1977 after four days and nights of plowing snow from township roads, road commissioner Ken Moss had the roads clean, but all of this snow removal equipment was broken down and said, “if we have any more wind, we’re going to be hurting worse than ever.” Bulldozer operator Merle Woods used his own equipment because a snowplow couldn’t have plowed through the stiff, four-foot drifts. Moss made a note in his road diary, “It’s the worst I’ve ever seen.” He’d been plowing roads for 25 years.
High winds caused a tree in the front yard of 511 E. North to fall on the roof of the house in December of 1987. One tree limb broke off and fell on the roof of the home and another limb broke later, landing on the family car. The family was trapped inside the home until police were summoned to clear a path to one of the entrances blocked by the fallen tree.
February 2007 saw the area immobilized by snow. There were no lengthy power outages associated with the storm, but the 13 inches of snow that fell on the area caused plenty of its own inconveniences.
The prediction in December of 2008 was dire – up to an inch of freezing rain beginning early in the afternoon. But as the afternoon waned and there was still no sign of precipitation most hoped it was just another fouled up forecast. In anticipation of the predicted storm, schools were released early, activities cancelled and commuters dreaded the ride home. The grocery store was doing a booming business. But LeRoy wasn’t lucky enough to be by-passed by the storm. The rain started falling and freezing about 8 p.m. LeRoyans woke up Friday to ice everywhere and a dense fog. Roads weren’t too bad if drivers were careful, but streets were hazardous with large tree branches down all over town. City crews were at work all day clearing streets and cleaning up debris.

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P.O. Box 102, LeRoy, IL 61752 • 309-468-8409 • Legal
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