It was 70 years ago and it was a wild month of November.
While earlier then month we had a record setting warm spell. Note some would say “heat wave” but 70 years ago on November 25th was the date of the so called big ten football “Snow Bowl”
The Michigan/Ohio State football game on November 25, 1950 is known as the Snow Bowl, for obvious reasons. As explained in the alumni magazine, Ohio State University Monthly “The game was played in the teeth of a full-scale blizzard, five inches of snow on the ground and snow whistling through the air, borne on a 29-mile-per-hour gale. Despite the fact it was the worst blizzard in 37 years in Columbus, the Ohio capital easily defended its title as the football craziest town in the nation. A total of 50,503 persons braved the elements, staying below deck, under the Stadium, until just a few minutes before the kickoff.”
Because of the large crowd, and the mess it would have created to refund the tickets, Ohio State Athletic Director Dick Larkins, after conferring with both Michigan and Big Ten officials, decided to play the game. The game had bearing on who would win the conference and go to the Rose Bowl.
Volunteers were detailed to special broom duty, keeping the goal lines and the sideline yard-markers swept clean throughout the game. On several occasions, when there was an official’s time-out to measure for a first down, a special crew of sweepers cleared off the snow to find the line. The strategy of both teams became the same, run a play or two into the line – straight in – and then kick, preferably on third down because if a fumble occurred a fourth down for kicking would be available.
The snow, wind, and insecure footing made the game a mockery – an imitation of football only by a stretch of the imagination. The two teams huffed, puffed, bumped and slid. Cold hands refused to hang on to the ball. At the end of 60 minutes of sliding and kicking, Michigan emerged on the long end of a 9-3 count.
Here are the official weather conditions at Columbus, Ohio. Ann Arbor and here in Grand Rapids for November 25th, 1950. Columbus Had a H/L of 20/8 on November 24th with 2” of snow fall. On the 25th they reported 7.5” of snow fall with a H/L of 20/5. On the 26th the H/L was 28/7 with 1.9” of more snow fall. On the 27th 2.1” more fell and even on the 28th yet another 1.1” fell. During a 7 day stretch Columbus recorded 15.2” of snow fall and had as much as 13” on the ground. The temperature stayed below 32 for 6 days in a row. Note Columbus averages only 25.9” of snow a year. At Ann Arbor they had 6” of snow fall on the 26th (as reported) and 2” on the 28th with the most on the ground of 6” on the 26th Here in Grand Rapids We only had 10.6” of snow over that 6 days but on the 24th we had a low of -9 and on the 25th we had a low of -10 for the coldest lows ever recorded in the month of November here at Grand Rapids. Also of note is that on November 1st 1950 Grand Rapids had its warmest November day of record with a high of 81 so in November 1950 Grand Rapids had both its warmest and coldest day for the month in the same year.