EXCLUSIVE 1954's Breaking News versus 2014's Breaking News

 •  English

Whenever snow starts falling abundantly and the wind starts to pick up we hear parallels being drawn in the form of the saying 'it's just like in '54'. Few remain that can remember the snowstorm that befell Romania in the winter of 1954. We, however, remember the Great Blizzard mostly through word-of-mouth or stories told by our grandparents from their youth. And we often think of it as an Andersen-like fairytale that happened here in the Bărăgan plain.

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Let us recall the facts of 1954: It was not the case of one blizzard but four!

According to the statistical data provided by the National Meteorological Administration, four distinct snowstorms happened throughout February, occurring in the following spans: 1-4 Feb., 7-9 Feb., 17-19 Feb. and lastly, 22-24 Feb.

Photo taken in the Bucharest North railway station
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The winds that came with the snowstorm had a recorded high in Bucharest — 126 kilometers per hour! — in the course of two days: 3-4 February 1954.

The maximum for snowfall during a 24 hour window — 115, 9 l/m2 — was set on the 3rd of February 1954 at Grivița.

Snow clearing on the railway
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More photographs available at foto.agerpres.ro — Winter 1954

The highest level of the fallen snow was recorded by the NMAR in Călărași, clocking in at 173 cm, yet the snow reached higher as the wind formed snow drifts spanning in height from 2 to 5 meters in the east and south-east of the country. Inspired by the winter conditions outside and the fact that the 3rd of February this year marks 60 years since the Great Blizzard of 1954, we set about a journalistic foray through AGERPRES' archive.

Speakers being set up in order to receive emergency broadcasts relayed through the Radio Broadcasting Service
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The first surprise became apparent in the volumes that hold news bulletins cast in February 1954. A handwritten note said 'Didn't come out due to the blizzard'. For those who are unaware of AGERPRES' history it should be made clear that the note — erroneously dated 3rd of January 1954 instead of February — represents an exception to the norm.

In the Agencies' 125-year history, there are few occurrences of news bulletins not being cast to the newspapers as there are few of RADOR and later AGERPRES journalists not working in the field and relaying information. February 1954 bore two of these occurrences, on the 3rd and 7th of February. Such instances were so rare that even the archivist felt the need to explain the circumstances surrounding the exception.

The first news bulletins after the blizzard appear on the 4th of February 1954 at 18.10 and they detail the authorities' response in the nation's capital.
An inquiry in our photo archive offers us proof, through our photojournalists' work in the field, that AGERPRES journalists were on the scene, covering what we would now call breaking news, in February 1954.

We invite you to see through our colleagues' eyes how the Great Blizzard of '54, now a part of urban legends, affected our nation's capital in the mid-20th century. AGERPRES returns on the scene 60 years later, yet again in harsh winter, yet again in breaking news.

Magheru Boulevard

Plevnei Avenue, view towards Schitu Măgureanu Street

Plevnei Avenue, view towards Mihail Kogălniceanu Square

Queen Elizabeth (Regina Elisabeta) Boulevard, in front of the former 'Spicul' bakery

Fount (Izvor) Bridge

Nicolae Bălcescu Boulevard

Victory (Victoriei) Avenue — Casa Capșa

Anghel Saligny Street near the intersection with Queen Elizabeth Boulevard

University (Universității) Square

Queen Elizabeth Boulevard, in front of the University of Bucharest.

AGERPRES (Documentation-Archives — Anca Pandea; Photo: Angelo Brezoianu)


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