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02/02/11: According to the Chicago Tribune, we've just been through the third largest winter storm in Chicago's history, at least in terms of snowfall. I obviously wasn't around for the 1930 storm, but I have some distinct memories of each of the other ones on the top five:
- The 1967 storm which dropped 23 inches of snow on the city is still number one. I have two memories of that one. The happy memory is of the gate we had on the side of the house. I'm not sure if I was tall enough yet to see over it, but I do remember the snow had drifted in the gangway then either packed or froze, so we were able to walk over the gate by climbing up one hill and sliding down the other. The unhappy memory was that my Grandmother died then, and I remember walking down the middle of usually very busy Kedzie Avenue to the funeral home, and there being almost no cars going by.
- The 1979 storm, which is now number five on the list, is memorable to me because the goofy high school I was going to was one of only two or three schools in the city which did not cancel classes, so I had to trudge to the bus and ride to school while most kids slept in. At least I had my pick of seats on the bus!
- The 1999 storm was memorable because it was just after the first of the year, and we had invited everyone I work with over for a post-New Year's party. The snow started before we went to the beer store, but we wound up with tons of food left. At least we didn't go hungry while we waited for the snow to melt. Oh, and I remember lots of shoveling.

It's a little early to tell what my memory of this year's storm will be, but I have a pretty good idea. I was at work yesterday when the snow started and I had every intention to stay until my normal time, when my boss suggested I leave early so I could cover the other guys as they left later. I grabbed my stuff and left the building at 1PM. The train was delayed, but I walked in the house at around 2:30, planning to work an hour or so and then sit and watch the snow fall. I unzipped my backpack and felt my heart drop to my feet as I realized that I had left my laptop at the office. Not only could I not cover the afternoon, I wouldn't be able to work from home today if the trains were not running.
     After cursing myself for a couple minutes (and calling a co-worker to confirm that the computer was still there) I changed to some comfortable warmer clothes and Stephie drove me to LaGrange, where I caught the 3:03 train back to the city. I had a plan. I figured I'd get in Union Station at around 3:45, the trip to the office would take five minutes each way, then I'd have plenty of time to catch the 4:48 (my normal train) back home, after which it's a block-and-a-half walk home. Should be home at my normal time. Piece of cake.
     The first flaw in my cunning plan appeared shortly after I got on the train, when it stopped between stations, and the voice on the loudspeaker announced that we were not going to move until they cleared a derailment from ahead on the tracks. Fine, I thought, I have plenty of time. I had my MP3 player, and I was amused watching the two guys in front of me polish off a twelve-pack of beer. We finally got going and reached the station just before 4PM.
     The next flaw shows up when we had trouble getting off the train platform, because the area in front of the doors was full of people waiting to get on the train we just left. I don't think I've seen so may people jammed in there, everyone looking around to make sure that the train they were being pushed towards was the one they really wanted. I was able to find my way up and out and once on the surface, I was able to quickly make my way to the office, where I told the stragglers that they better get going because it was rapidly turning nasty out there.
     I hurried back to the station, more due to the wind and cold than any sense of urgency, because I still had a half-hour before the 4:48 was due to leave. I slopped through the slush just inside the door, through the food court and down the escalator. The fatal flaw in my cunning plan manifested itself when I saw the board showing the stops lit up for the 4:48 train as I exited the escalator. I got to the door to see the train as it was pulling away from the platform. It was 4:20.
     Being a somewhat novice train commuter, I didn't know that when the weather was this bad, they sent out a train as soon as it was full. Had I not dawdled at the office, I might have made it. I wound up waiting for the 5:17 train, which with delays left me off at around 5:45, so I was home around 6. Then I could relax and watch the snow.
     Yeah, that's pretty much what I'll remember about the blizzard of 2011.

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