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Winter Storm of 1938

A Historic Winter Storm

Chicago Tribune, April 9, 1938On April 8, 1938, a huge blizzard tore through Chicago and other parts of the Midwest.  This storm lasted for 3 days and caused major road closures and power outages.  It was described as the “worst April storm in history” by the Indianapolis Times.  The storm didn’t just hit the Midwest though.  It ran all over the nation, causing flooding and tornadoes in other states.  Forty-eight people died across the nation from this historic storm.

The storm dumped 9 inches of snow across the Chicago area from April 8 to 9. Some areas close to the lake saw close to 12 inches of snow!  To make matters worse, it was the second snowstorm in just 3 days.  Just a few days before, Chicago had dealt with another unusual April storm.  April 1938 resulted in the most snowfall of any month that year, and it was the first time that April had the most snowfall when compared to the other months that year.  Between April 5-6 and 8-9, 13.6″ of snow fell in the greater Chicago area.

If the snow wasn’t enough of an issue, there was a huge risk of flooding after the snow melted.  The temperatures on April 9 were expected to be in the low 40s, and all that snow was about to melt. The snow had already done enough damage taking out power, stranding travelers, and damaging telephone and telegraph lines. Luckily, the melting was not as bad as anticipated, and it melted at an even and slow rate, making the water easier to manage.

Image Above: Chicago Daily Tribune, April 9, 1938.

Chicago Tribune, April 9, 1938

Image Above: Winter Storm Map, Chicago Daily Tribune, April 9, 1938, Page 7.

The Storm in Buffalo Grove

The storm affected the residents of Buffalo Grove as well, making traveling anywhere difficult.  Below is a Model T car stuck in the snow near the Welter Filling Station.  The Welter Filling Station was located near the corner of Lake Cook Road and McHenry Road/Route 83. It was the only gas station in Buffalo Grove at the time.

Model Ts could drive in some snow, but this blizzard was too much for the sturdy cars. Since temperatures were in the mid-30s to low 40s, the snow was wet and heavy, making it even more difficult to travel.  Luckily for the car pictured below, they were just able to make it into the filling station to get more gas.

Welter Filling Station after Blizzard. April 9, 1938.

Welter Filling Station 1938Welter Filling Station 1938






Do you have any questions about our archives or Buffalo Grove history? Contact the Museum Registrar, Marina Mayne, at 847.850.2135 or


  • “Storm Subsides, 35 Dead in Nation”. Chicago Daily Tribune. April 9, 1938, Volume 97, Number 85, Page. 1, 7.
  • “48 Dead as Storm Subsides over U.S.; Sun ‘Smiles’ Here.” Indianapolis Times. April 9, 1938, Volume 50, Number 25, p. 1.
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