Blizzard of ‘62 shut down Bangor 50 years ago

Posted Jan. 02, 2013, at 10:57 a.m.
After 25.5 inches of snow fell on Bangor on Dec. 30, 1962, two Volkswagen Beetles were among the vehicles abandoned on Outer Hammond Street near Pilots Grill.
BDN File Photo
After 25.5 inches of snow fell on Bangor on Dec. 30, 1962, two Volkswagen Beetles were among the vehicles abandoned on Outer Hammond Street near Pilots Grill.
The Bangor Public Works Department sought assistance in any form to cope with the aftermath of the Dec. 30, 1962 blizzard that dumped 25.5 inches of snow on the Queen City. A state-of-the-art snow melter transported north from Portland was set up on New Year’s Day 1963 near the intersection of Central, Hammond, Main, and State streets in downtown Bangor to melt snow blocking parking spaces in the area. In the background is the tower of Bangor City Hall, which then stood at Columbia and Hammond streets.
BDN File Photo by Carroll Hall
The Bangor Public Works Department sought assistance in any form to cope with the aftermath of the Dec. 30, 1962 blizzard that dumped 25.5 inches of snow on the Queen City. A state-of-the-art snow melter transported north from Portland was set up on New Year’s Day 1963 near the intersection of Central, Hammond, Main, and State streets in downtown Bangor to melt snow blocking parking spaces in the area. In the background is the tower of Bangor City Hall, which then stood at Columbia and Hammond streets.
Efforts to remove snow from downtown Bangor streets showed some progress on Jan. 1, 1963 when this photo was taken from a spot approximately outside today’s Hammond Street Seniors Center. The photographer was facing State Street Hill (beyond the pedestrians); Bangor Savings Bank is the first building on the right.
BDN File Photo by Danny Maher
Efforts to remove snow from downtown Bangor streets showed some progress on Jan. 1, 1963 when this photo was taken from a spot approximately outside today’s Hammond Street Seniors Center. The photographer was facing State Street Hill (beyond the pedestrians); Bangor Savings Bank is the first building on the right.
Snow banks clogged the intersection of Central Street (sign outside the W.T. Grant Co. store) and Hammond Street (center) as a few adventurous motorists navigated Bangor streets on Jan. 1, 1963. Two days earlier, a prediction of snow flurries had exploded into a historic blizzard that dumped 25.5 inches of snow on the lower Penobscot Valley. The steeple of the Hammond Street Congregational Church is visible in the distance.
BDN File Photo by Danny Maher
Snow banks clogged the intersection of Central Street (sign outside the W.T. Grant Co. store) and Hammond Street (center) as a few adventurous motorists navigated Bangor streets on Jan. 1, 1963. Two days earlier, a prediction of snow flurries had exploded into a historic blizzard that dumped 25.5 inches of snow on the lower Penobscot Valley. The steeple of the Hammond Street Congregational Church is visible in the distance.
With Main Street plugged by snow, only pedestrians could move in downtown Bangor not long after the Dec. 30, 1962 blizzard. The photographer was standing in the street near today’s shuttered Greyhound station and looking toward the distant intersection of Main and Hammond streets. Hodsdon Street is to the right of the Schlitz sign; Freese’s Department Store is the tall, light-colored building on the right, about halfway toward the Hammond-Main street intersection.
BDN File Photo
With Main Street plugged by snow, only pedestrians could move in downtown Bangor not long after the Dec. 30, 1962 blizzard. The photographer was standing in the street near today’s shuttered Greyhound station and looking toward the distant intersection of Main and Hammond streets. Hodsdon Street is to the right of the Schlitz sign; Freese’s Department Store is the tall, light-colored building on the right, about halfway toward the Hammond-Main street intersection.
One pedestrian is the only person to be seen on Main Street in downtown Bangor on Jan. 1, 1963. The photographer was standing near where Rebecca’s is now located and was looking south toward Union Street. Freese’s Department Store is across the street.
BDN File Photo by Danny Maher
One pedestrian is the only person to be seen on Main Street in downtown Bangor on Jan. 1, 1963. The photographer was standing near where Rebecca’s is now located and was looking south toward Union Street. Freese’s Department Store is across the street.
A car whizzes past as BDN photography Danny Maher photographs an opening in the massive snowbank lining Main Street in downtown Bangor on Jan. 1, 1963. Across the way are the Boston Store and Fanny Farmer Candies.
BDN File Photo by Danny Maher
A car whizzes past as BDN photography Danny Maher photographs an opening in the massive snowbank lining Main Street in downtown Bangor on Jan. 1, 1963. Across the way are the Boston Store and Fanny Farmer Candies.
An unidentified BDN newspaper carrier delivers an early January 1963 edition of the NEWS to a snowbound house in Bangor. A blizzard had just dumped 25.5 inches of snow on the Queen City.
BDN File Photo by Spike Webb
An unidentified BDN newspaper carrier delivers an early January 1963 edition of the NEWS to a snowbound house in Bangor. A blizzard had just dumped 25.5 inches of snow on the Queen City.

Editor’s note: This article was adapted from a special weather edition that the Bangor Daily News published on Jan. 12, 2006.

On Dec. 30, 1962, Bangor was hit with 25.5 inches of snow in a single day, the highest daily tally in the history of climate records in Maine at the time.

The forecast had been for “occasional snow or flurries,” leaving residents utterly unprepared for the onslaught. Then the thermometer dropped 16 degrees in a single hour, and the flakes began to fall.

A pregnant woman went into labor during the storm, tied on her boots, and walked several blocks to the hospital before giving birth. Another mother and her six children were rescued from their Dixmont home by a soldier on a snowmobile.

Plows traveled from more than a hundred miles away to help clear away the 20-foot drifts of new snow.

Snowstorms are a fact of life in Maine, regardless of small climate shifts, but in this case, there may be something to parents’ arguments that their childhood was far colder, snowier, and more onerous than that of their offspring.

More snow fell [in Bangor] in 1962 than in any year before or since. The years from 1951 to 1972, clearly a cold, stormy phase in Maine’s history, were tied to a shift in the atmospheric system that is responsible for much of Maine’s weather, a pattern known as the North Atlantic Oscillation, state climatologist Greg Zielinski said.

Recent years have had mild weather because of the behavior of the North Atlantic Oscillation, but scientists predict the pattern could switch back to stormy cold weather in the near future.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business