As extraordinary weather goes the winter of 1949-50 was cruising along as nothing special. In the days after World War Two, folks felt a new confidence in weather predictions and early warnings of approaching weather. As part of wartime military defenses, weather observation stations, atmospheric science and communications had been greatly advanced and converted to civilian service. But in January 1950, after weeks of frosty winter mornings and occasional snowflakes, there was no high tech weather pattern modeling like today, no weather satellites or cloud radar. Tacomans relied on radio weather reports and the predictions of newspaper weathermen. On the front page of the Tacoma News Tribune of Thursday January 12th, the Official U.S. Weather Report in the upper left corner read “Colder Tonight But Moderating By Tomorrow”.

“Break in Weather Forecast” was the headline below and the accompanying story quoted weatherman Ross Miller who reported it would drop down to between 20 and 25 degrees before warming up on Friday and turning to rain on Saturday. That’s not what happened.

Thanks to Mick Flaaen and Mariposa Productions for the mini documentary. Its part of the Tacoma Home Movies series.

The film footage was discovered in the Tacoma Elks Lodge archives and in the Celmer family collection of 8mm films. The still photographs from the Richards Collection are held by the Tacoma Public Library.


  1. I was born Feb 18-1950. I have family photos of the snow that I just missed. There is a great video of Gig Harbor bay frozen solid.


  2. I remember it well. My sister — creative, though never particularly coordinated — managed to dive head-first off the sidewalk into a snowbank so that only her legs were left to extricate her by. Man, that was some deep snow. Deeper perhaps by my only being four at the time and somewhat shorter than today.


  3. I was born on Friday, January 13, 1950 during the Tacoma blizzard. My dad had to fill the trunk of the car with big sand bags to get my mom to the hospital.


  4. I remember it well – I think. My father drove to the school to pick me up, along with perhaps 3 classmates he was recruited to deliver home. He stopped on I street, next to the playground, prepared with chains on (I think) our Buick. The kids, probably 2nd graders like me, had to direct him to their homes. Don’t think a random parent would be recruited for delivery service today.

    What I cannot reconcile is why we were next to the Lowell playground, and not at Grant. Grant was our temporary school after the earthquake of the previous April (I had to look it up) made the school unsafe.

    What amazed me was the size of the drifts, and while I have no decent scale to apply, they seemed huge. I don’t think 10ft, mentioned somewhere, but I think 4′ in the vicinity of our home.


  5. Gives me the creeps…a first grader at Park Avenue School, we were sent out the door to walk home. Parents weren’t even called as the staff left top. My second grade neighbor girl and I walked 10 blocks to my house in that blowing, blinding, freezing cold mess.. Both of our mom’s were home, neither one had a car and neither one drove…they were frantic.


  6. I was a blizzard baby. I was born right after it in February 18th 1950. I have family photos taken at that time of my sister and my brother playing in the snow. It never dawned me that those were photos taken during the blizzard or right after the blizzard I.


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