Snow memories of 1993

If I were to ask you what you were doing 25 years ago on Tuesday, would you be able to answer?

While I’m pretty good at remembering most of the significant events in my life, I will be the first to admit that there are just some exact dates and times of things that have happened that are difficult to recall. There also are others that become vivid once again with just a little nudge.

I was reminded of that again late last week as I was walking through the newsroom and happened to look up at the wall. And there it was, just on the other side of the newsroom’s poinsettia plant, the reproduction of the front page of the Herald-Star of March 14, 1993. The headline really stood out — “Wintry blast paralyzes area.”

There was a photograph that accompanied the story, and that picture truly did capture the event — it was a look north on Fourth Street. Mike Bordo, then a staff photographer, managed to capture a pretty accurate winter scene. Snow was falling, and a couple of cars were trying to make their way down the street, while the driver of another likely had given up, and left the vehicle parked along the curb. There was a lone pedestrian — a man carrying a shovel as he made he way across the thoroughfare.

It’s how we covered the blizzard of 1993.

The storm was one of those rare convergences of just the right mix of low pressure systems and moisture that affected a large portion of the Eastern United States. And by time the precipitation, which had started to fall in the early hours of Saturday, March 13, finally came to an end in the late evening, our region found itself covered with several feet of snow. So unusual was the weather that day, our story explained, that the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh had issued our region’s first blizzard warning since January 1978.

Bordo, Paul Giannamore and I were the three newsroom employees who were able to make it in to the newspaper’s Dock Street office that afternoon. We were joined by just enough composing room employees, pressmen and mail room workers to be able to put out our Sunday edition.

Paul did the reporting and I laid out the pages, and then we helped with paste-up in the composing room. After we were done there, we went downstairs and helped watch one of the units as the press started, and then we wondered back to the mail room, where we were joined by Bordo and helped place the inserts in each of the papers.

It was a hard day of work, but we had the satisfaction of being able to say that each of us had had a hand in just about every aspect of the production of that edition — Volume 187, No. 280 — and in knowing we had helped to ensure that our streak of never missing a scheduled publication day since June 7, 1806, remained safe.

Only after we were finished and the bundles of newspapers sat neatly on our loading dock, did we finally wonder how we were going to get home. Bordo figured he was just going to stay the night at the paper, but Giannamore had decided he was going to drive home. The biggest problem he faced was the several-feet-tall snowbank that had developed on Dock Street, just outside of our building. He was not deterred, and Bordo was able to capture on film a classic shot of Paul’s K-car blasting through the snow in a scene that looked like it was straight out of “The A-Team.”

The main roads and some of the side streets had been made passable by then, and I was able to get a ride to the corner of Lovers Lane and Preston Road, and then made my way through the snow to my Brockton Road home.

We’ve been lucky the last two weekends, as consecutive major winter storms have hit the East Coast hard. And, while spring will officially arrive on March 20, it’s best to expect to see any kind of weather this time of year, as we will be reminded Tuesday, when we remember the blizzard of 1993.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)