January 13–14, 1979
Forecasters predicted just a few inches of snow. Chicago was blanketed with 20. The city’s response was the real disaster: Plows didn’t arrive on clogged residential side streets until a week later. CTA trains bypassed ill-maintained stops in Black neighborhoods. Mayor Michael Bilandic’s tone-deaf responses to criticism — he compared himself to a martyr in the Bible — likely cost him reelection. Chastened, the city invested in improvements, and today, its Snow Command center includes a network of sensors and GPS-equipped plow trucks.