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Retro Reading: The Great Los Angeles Blizzard by Thom Racina


By all accounts, it's a fluke that I read this book now (while California is getting hit with bad weather) yet at the same time, I have to ask myself, did Thom Racina predict this weather while writing the book?

This epic story begins on January 15 and ends on January 24, 19XX (hinting to possibly early 1980 or '81) since the great freeze of 1977 and was published that same year, but maybe I'm overthinking the time period.

Anyway, scientist Carter DeSimone is worried about the storm pattern that's hanging out over Los Angeles. The high temperature on January 15 is 37 degrees while the Midwest and East Coast are enjoying temperatures reflecting those of the summer months.

His data doesn't show the weather system moving, but after receiving a second opinion, he is convinced that the area will not only see a decrease in the temperature, but snow is a likely possibility within the next few days.

Michael Sheppard and his wife Lorna are having a birthday for their daughter Dawn (who's turning the ripe old age of six months) at his parents' house (Bob and Julie) and his aunt and uncle (Delores and Harry) will be there along with The Kupperman's (Sam and Minnie, plus their grandson Billy) as will his sick sister Susan.

Everyone's in a jolly mood as Susan makes an appearance from her sickbed and she even plays the piano for Delores who entertains the group with a song.

It's a night they all need to cherish because in less than twenty-four hours, the roads are going to get slick from the rain that's already fallen and soon the flakes will start piling up. Not just in inches, but feet.

Of course, with any disaster, everyone is scattered around the city, and they make out Bob and Julie's home as the meeting place in case things get bad.

Michael and Lorna decide to stay at their Hollywood apartment, but that soon becomes a mistake as the building collapses in certain sections and the tenants seek refuge in the landlady's apartment, since it's much bigger and the recreation room is right next door. They feel safe there for a while until one of the tenants accidently leaves a can of lighter fluid out and it causes a fire.

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Under the Griffith Observatory (where Bob and Julie live and Carter has set up shop) the homes in the area seem safe and the Sheppard's aren't really having any problems with lifelines, but Susan needs surgery and due to the weather, they can't get her to a hospital.

Harry, who's kind of slimy, attends an opening for a Van Gogh exhibit after Delores drops him off. She's not into the art scene, but Harry usually buys a new piece of art once a week and he has some friends that he's hoping to see.

As the weather gets worse, Delores decides to head up to Bob and Julie's after she hears From Harry. He tells her that he's going to stay at the office (which is across the street) and will get up to the house when he can.

And while she already has a drinking problem, it gets out of control while at her in-laws because she's already drank everything in the house. She blames it on Harry for not being there and not having heard from him.

But while Harry isn't around, he's trying to make his way to Bob's but has an ulterior motive for getting there. He's planning on leaving Delores after they're rescued and plans on buying himself a villa, far, far away.

Following a night at the shelter, Michael and Lorna decide to head to his parents' house and privilege takes over as they get in touch with Carter (who's a friend of Bob's) and catch a ride with a soldier.

With the survivors at the house, they have to face two new problems: rain and rioting, plus they have to get Susan to a helicopter.

Who will survive?

It's anyone's guess as the characters not only have to face the raging blizzard, but they have to face their own inner demons.

While this is a good read, the book is written narratively and at times it does drag, but when the characters do interact with each other the action picks up.

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