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Throwback Thursday: Belleville digs out from record snow on Nov. 6, 1951

Three feet of snow in Boston. Twenty-one inches here by this time last year, plus the sixth snowiest January on record. But 50 degrees and sunny on Wednesday? Are you missing the snow?

Here’s hoping this Throwback Thursday will chill your longing for wintry mixes and the white stuff. We dug into the archives and came up with Nov. 6, 1951, when Belleville was shoveling out from nearly a foot of snow that fell in 24 hours, at the time the fifth highest snowfall on record and the highest daily snow total for that early in the season.

The snowstorm was serious business in 1951 as it swept across the Great Plains. The News-Democrat reported 201 deaths related to the snowstorm, including many that were casualties of the times and technology. Of the deaths, 155 were from vehicles crashing on slippery roads and 19 were from fires started by stoves overheating.

Belleville fared better. Schools closed, folks had trouble getting around and workers had some fun.

Our paper reported: “The snow was soft, wet, white and so much of it that clerks, office girls and factory workers paused regularly to pack up a snowball and start a row. It was fun for them.”

Our favorite part was the front-page photo and story about the cause for the big snow. No polar vortex or global warming for the no-nonsense folks of 1951: They blamed the storm on recent A-bomb tests in New Mexico.

For proof, prominent local electronics experimenter Earl Lurtz took his Geiger counter out into his yard in Edison Place in Belleville and found “Radioactive Snow!” that day’s paper proclaimed. “The concentration is not enough to be harmful to humanity, Lurtz opined.”

Want to see more about the big snow of 1951? See more photos, that day’s newspaper and past episodes of Throwback Thursday at bnd.com/tbt.

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