Blogging by the Bushel
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With all the talk of the imminent inclement weather I figured what better time to reminisce about the great blizzard of 1978. I will be the first to admit that I don’t remember anything about it because at the time my parents were still teenagers and I was an afterthought. But from the many stories I have heard it was a storm of unprecedented magnitude at least that is what the National Weather Service termed it. The National Weather Service defines a “severe blizzard” as a storm with winds of 45 miles per hour or greater; a great density of falling or blowing snow; and temperatures of 10 degrees or less. I don’t have to tell anyone of you that may be reading this that in fact; winds gusted to more than 100 miles per hour over much of the state, with sustained winds in the 45-60 mph range. Record snowfalls were recorded in many areas and all-time low barometric pressure records were shattered as the intense storm whipped the state . . . The Blizzard of 1978 was, in fact, the worst storm to ever occur in Ohio.

For the young whipper snappers, like me, who don’t know in January and February 1978, a series of three storms hit the United States Midwest or the Northeast. These storms were some of the most severe winter events to occur in recent history, and collectively are known as the Blizzard of 1978. The first storm avoided Ohio, targeting the Northeast. From January 19 to 21, twenty-one inches of snow fell in parts of the region. This was a forty-eight-hour record for snowfall. The second storm found Ohio in its path. From January 25 to 27, between one and three feet of snow fell in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Winds averaged between fifty and seventy miles per hour, creating snowdrifts as deep as twenty-five feet. With temperatures already hovering near zero, the wind chill was deadly, reaching sixty degrees Fahrenheit below zero. Thousands of people were stranded in their cars and in their homes. For the first time in its history, the entire Ohio Turnpike closed due to the blizzard’s severity. One semi-truck driver was buried inside of his truck by a snowdrift. Rescuers did not discover him for almost one week. Thousands of homes and businesses lost electricity. As the storm moved eastward, warmer temperatures converted the snow to ice, paralyzing the Northeast. Over seventy people died in this storm; fifty-one of the victims were in Ohio.

Hopefully, the storm that is blowing in as I write won’t be this bad, and I don’t think it will. But just in case things do get hairy, be prepared to hunker down and ride the storm out with your loved ones. In the mean time please feel free to share your stories and/or experiences from living through the “Great Blizzard of 1978.”

Anna Kaverman

Mercer Landmark

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