|Miami Herald, Jan. 20, 1977. (Click to enlarge)|
This coming Thursday will mark 35 years since "The Great South Florida Blizzard of '77."
On Jan. 19, 1977, many Miami residents got their first glimpse of snow, ever.
The Miami News was able to get a paper on the street that afternoon with this headline: "Souvenir edition: The day that couldn't happen. Snow in Miami!"
News staff writer Ian Glass reported, "Snow fell on Miami for the first time in recorded history."
At the Associated Press bureau on Biscayne Boulevard, 29 year-old staffer Marty Merzer was working the overnight shift and it was his task to break the bone-chilling news to the world.
A few days ago, Merzer shared with me what he remembered of that night.
I was working the solo overnight (11 p.m.- 7 a.m.) shift at AP Miami. We knew it was going to be cold, but I don’t think the forecast mentioned the possibility of snow.A few months later, Merzer left the AP and went to work for.....the Herald, where he stayed until retiring in 2008.
At any rate, special advisories started moving on the weather wire and I whipped up a brief story, with a lede I can’t really remember but I know its core was a phrase that had snow “reported as far south as” a Florida East Coast city.
In very rapid fashion, as the reports of snow moved south, I just kept re-topping the story by changing that phrase. “As far south as Fort Pierce.” “As far south as West Palm Beach.” Pompano Beach. Fort Lauderdale. Hollywood. Miami.
For one of the few times in my miserable life, I didn’t take a byline, maybe because the story began as little more than a brief. Alas, the next day, the Herald printed a box that showed the rolling AP ledes, one after the other, as a way of tracking the snow southward.
I could have had something like eight bylines in my hometown Herald that day, which – as an AP writer back then – would have given me a grand lifetime total of…eight Herald bylines.
Still, it was a fun story to write, I later nailed my share of Herald bylines and I didn’t really mind all that much getting snowed out that day. Sort of.