Toledo Talk

Partial WTOL Newscast During Blizzard of '78

I like stumbling across these and sharing. Don't know if this has ever been posted here, but it was damn fun to watch just now.

Guess I shouldn't be too hard on current weather/news folks...since even this segment from 1978 has the obligatory "what are shoppers stocking up with" segment!

If you haven't seen this before kids, here's how a major weather event was covered before the days of "Live Doppler 378,000" or "Super Radar Laser Kablammo NDX". Dig the simple "board" with Ohio, Michigan, and Chroma key compositing ("green screen")!

Young Jeff Heitz is your anchor...

YouTube: WTOL 6PM News, Jan. 27th, 1978

created by oldhometown on Dec 05, 2012 at 09:22:09 pm     History     Comments: 41

source      versions      1 person liked this

Comments ... #

Damn my 7 year old memory. I remember it being so much worse than what the pictures showed. Thanks for the link, it was a fun trip down memory lane!

posted by MoreThanRhetoric on Dec 05, 2012 at 09:36:12 pm     #   1 person liked this

wow yeah
i was only a few months old at the time, and have been told repeatedly how horrible it was.

not so bad in the sceme of things! :)

posted by upso on Dec 05, 2012 at 09:38:35 pm     #   1 person liked this

Lol beer sales were brisk hehehe.

posted by Linecrosser on Dec 05, 2012 at 09:42:30 pm     #   1 person liked this

Iw as out in that storm in Michigan, got home late about 10 pm, car stalled and me and brother had to walk to a nearby house to call for a ride home. I was about 13 at the time, and all I can remember is how damn cold it was.

posted by Linecrosser on Dec 05, 2012 at 09:44:19 pm     #   1 person liked this

I was only 4, but I vividly remember our rural neighbors going door to door on snowmobiles delivering essential supplies to people. You just don't forget that kind of thing!

posted by mom2 on Dec 05, 2012 at 09:56:31 pm     #   1 person liked this

Oh my goodness...I just watched the clip. Brought back some memories seeing the non-digital gas pumps and cash registers.

posted by mom2 on Dec 05, 2012 at 10:05:27 pm     #   2 people liked this

these accounts of the Blizzard always fascinate me. I was born a bit preemie on 9/26/78, so I always figured I was a blizzard byproduct. Never got confirmation though. :)

posted by kaj on Dec 05, 2012 at 10:25:30 pm     #   2 people liked this

bro in law drove a bread truck for Hostess. He broke down on 75 south of Pburg in the boonies, climbed a fence and walked across a field to get to some lights, he thinks it was about 1/2-3/4 mile. People in the house had power so they had gathered some neighbors on their atvs and brought them over. After he warmed up a bit, he and 2 other guys atv'd it back to the truck and loaded as much stuff as they could carry back to the house, 2 or 3 trips I think. spent the night and most of the next day there, I can't quite remember how or when he got home.

Does anyone remember Mike Morrin on the radio organizing a call-in-for-help network with the help of a salesman from Geo Realty? Mike was speculating how people were gonna get medicine and other kinds of help, if the cops and fires were gonna be able to get around to help people or what, and this guy called the station and said if he could get to his office in Sylvania, they could use his switchboard, something special I think, to take calls and get something organized. After the worst was over, they had a crew of people on snowmobiles answering calls for food and medicine, getting workers to hospitals and such. We never lost power in East Toledo, so we were hanging on that station (was it WSPD?), it was very cool to listen to what was happening. We lived right next to 280 at Starr Ave and we could hear and see snowmobiles and atv's going up and down Starr and 280, doing something, or maybe just enjoying that they could move and nobody else could, I dunno. Anyway, those guys did a good thing and they never got any credit for any of it. We bought a used car from the Geo guy in 1980 (he worked at Brown then) and remembered his name and had a great time talking about it. He was still bummed they never even got a thank you from the city.

posted by nana on Dec 05, 2012 at 10:26:23 pm     #   1 person liked this

Good video. I like the simplicity of the newsroom and weather area.

Blizzard of '78 - What Happened in Ohio: A Meteorological Review

posted by jr on Dec 05, 2012 at 11:11:29 pm     #   1 person liked this

I was 21. I got snowed in my apartment on a first date. I ended up marrying the guy and was married for about 25 years.

It was that storm that inspired me to get my ham radio license and get involved in emergency services and storm watch type activity as a hobby.

I lived over near Secor/Sylvania, and my little 1976 Honda Civic was one of the few vehicles doing well on the roads. Impressive little car, that.

posted by gamegrrl on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:08:54 am     #   1 person liked this

Remember the heavy rain, lightning and thunder, and how warm it was before the storm hit? Hubby and I lived in a duplex on Upton near Monroe that had a driveway steeper than the first hill on a roller coaster. They had already closed the schools, so I knew I would't have to work, but I moved my car across the street to the Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot because hubby thought he'd have a better chance of getting to Ford in Maumee the next morning if he drove my car. Yeah, he made it to Maumee, but lost control on the Trail and the car wound up buried in the median under a ton of snow and ice as the blizzard raged all day. Don't even remember how he got home. When we were finally able to get a tow truck to pull it out several days later the engine was encased in ice. They must have built cars better in those days because the damn thing thawed out and ran like a champ.

posted by shortysmom on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:20:46 am     #   1 person liked this

Great clip, thanks for posting. It brings back a lot of memories! They teamed us up with National Guardsmen to patrol the streets in jeeps borrowed from local dealers. It was eerily quiet on patrol (the crime rate dropped through the floor!)

The Chief at that time (Corrin McGrath) got a ride from home to the Safety Building on a snowmobile!

It was one heck of a fun time to be working!

posted by shamrock44 on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:24:35 am     #  

Amused at some suggestions it 'wasn't so bad'.

First thing is to ignore the 'official' snowfall totals, which are in the 12-16' range.

The wind was so strong and so constant, it was impossible for accurately measure snowfall amounts. Then you dealt with -45 degree windchill.

Put it this way---the National Guard was here for about a week with heavy machinery, getting roads cleared and moving mounds of snow couple stories high in some places.

This thing was 'all that' and then some.

posted by McCaskey on Dec 06, 2012 at 01:50:17 am     #  

12-16"---(inches, not feet).

posted by McCaskey on Dec 06, 2012 at 01:53:21 am     #  


posted by upso on Dec 06, 2012 at 06:40:57 am     #  

I know it was bad McCaskey, but as a 7 year old, I would have sworn the drifts were 10 feet high. I have a memory of being sent out our apartment window to shovel out the back door. When I was done I dug a tiger trap just for fun. Like I said, I would have sworn that hole was at least 5 feet deep. Of course, I would have told you the bedroom I had as a 12 year old was HUGE. Seeing it as an adult, I wonder how I didn't bang my head all the damn time.

posted by MoreThanRhetoric on Dec 06, 2012 at 07:51:07 am     #  

MTR, some of them were that high. I was 11 and lived out in Whitehouse, in a 2-story apartment building. The drifts against our building were as high as our windows. Drifts on the smaller buildings along our street reached the roofs.

I want to say we were out of school for two weeks, but I can't say for sure. I know that we had to make up several days beyond our allotted five "snow days." Our walking route to school was along a paved road that was still undeveloped. Since there were no houses on it but it connected to other residential streets, the plows just pushed all the snow to the end of those streets, leaving our route an adventurous mess for months!

posted by valbee on Dec 06, 2012 at 08:25:43 am     #  

A storm of this magnitude today would unleash a relentless blitz attack from the current weather-guessers and probably be the death of Bill spencer

posted by Hoops on Dec 06, 2012 at 08:52:31 am     #   2 people liked this

I remember it all too well. I was a manager for a major car rental company at Detroit Metro at the time. Out of 150 employees, 3 of us made it to work the day of the blizzard - a Thursday if memory serves. Needless to say, the airport was closed to air traffic so the normal Thursday rental car return of about 3,500 cars (Hertz, Avis and National combined) didn't happen. But it did happen on Friday, the 27th - along with the normal 5,000 or so rental cars normally returned on a Friday. At the time, the rental car facilities were inside the airport - just east of the International Terminal.

Imagine the chaos of the day when 8,000+ cars all came home - into what were already outgrown facilities. Made even more chaotic by the fact that the vast majority of employees didn't show up for work. It basically turned the northern end of Metro into a parking lot. That was NOT a fun weekend. Well, maybe it was. As I recall, we sent someone out on a major beer run and we funneled cars to our remote lots for the rest of the weekend.

Lots of beer, very little sleep but still kind of a sick, fond memory.

posted by Foodie on Dec 06, 2012 at 09:04:08 am     #  

I'll remember that storm forever. It was my 2nd year working at Jeep. A friend came by and picked me up in his Cherokee. I remember being amazed at how much snow was accumulating on the SIDES of trees and telephone poles. This was before dawn, and the majority of the snow fell later on.
We made it to work but there were so many people who couldn't make it in we got sent home at lunchtime.
I remember Hill avenue (which was only 2 lanes at the time) just east of Reynolds was a creek running through a small dip in the road. For days, there was only 1 lane carved out of drifts at least 10 feet high. You had to look to see whether any vehicles were coming from the other direction before venturing into the tunnel of snow.

posted by JeepMaker on Dec 06, 2012 at 09:23:41 am     #  

the only thing that could have make that cooler would have been orris tabner reporting basketball scores from the bar at the oaken bucket!!

posted by enjoyeverysandwich on Dec 06, 2012 at 09:26:34 am     #   1 person liked this

I was 13-pushing-14 and living up the road in Detroit at the time. Like valbee noted, we too missed a fair number of days of school, but I cannot recall how many were cancellations. I remember shoveling like it was my full-time job, and that I was pissed that I had to miss some of Monster Week on Channel 7 (Godzilla, Mothra, and the like).

Detroit never used to plow the side streets, so if we ever wanted to get back to normal, we were going to have to dig out the street. The snow piles were amazingly high even for a gawky teenager; I think at their peak they were at least six feet high at the street level, all dug out by hand as though we were Irish canal diggers ( I think at the time we likened it to being Hebrew slaves, but that was a bit hyperbolic).

I remember listening to my transistor radio with earphones while shoveling, and in particular I remember having on WWWW - 106.7 FM ("W-4") and hearing a bunch of cuts from Steely Dan's Aja album ("Deacon Blues," "Peg," and "Josie" are the songs I now associate a little bit with shoveling out mountains of snow and chopping the ice base with a sledgehammer).

The only other interesting bit I can recall is that my dad was a Detroit homicide detective, and he and his partner were traveling back from Kentucky with a murder suspect who was being extradited from Kentucky. They got as far as Dayton when the storm became too much for their department-issue Plymouth Fury, and they had to spend a couple of days in a hotel room with some handcuffed murderer. I remember my dad saying that they had to improvise so the guy could take a shower and other necessary business, and they compromised by letting him out of the cuffs while keeping their guns drawn as he showered.

posted by historymike on Dec 06, 2012 at 09:37:26 am     #  

I remember this blizzard well. It wasn't so much the depth of the snow but the winds that made it so difficult. Could not get out of our home as both doors were blocked. Neighbors helped get back door open (dog forever grateful).

I lived on Harvest Lane between Monroe and Laskey. For 5 days nothing went down the street except snow mobiles and skiers. I followed the snow plow out and made it to work in middle of the week and came back. Could not get in as drive not plowed and entrances blocked by large piles left by plows.

And it kept snowing all through that winter. I put a bicycle flag on my antenna as piles were so large you could not see around them. I worked across from FP mall and we all made bets when the huge snow piles would be gone. It was sometime in early June before they all melted.

posted by jackie on Dec 06, 2012 at 10:34:11 am     #   1 person liked this

Did Orris use to do the sports from the Oaken Bucket? Or was that just one of his watering holes?

posted by Molsonator on Dec 06, 2012 at 11:36:11 am     #  

Probably both, Molsonator.

I was coming home from work the Wed. night before, working second-shift, and plowed through a crater-sized puddle of water on Dorr St. about where Inverness is. That night it was 40-degrees and raining fairly hard. Things got soaked under the hood of my '77 Camaro and it stalled and wouldn't start. While I was trying to dry wires off, a cop came by. He asked how far I had to go to get where I was going, I said not far. He said good, because he'd just talked to his dispatcher who got a weather update and in about two hours it'd be snowing so hard I probably couldn't see the road. Took me about an hour to get car started again and by that time temp musta plunged 20 degrees and wind was doing about 50 mph. steady. Snowing by time I went to bed 3-4 a.m. Woke up late Thurs. morning, all you could see in apt. parking lot was tops of car antennas. Total whiteout.

posted by McCaskey on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:07:16 pm     #  

^^ I find the idea of McCaskey driving a '77 Camaro to be oddly humorous; did you also have a Fu Manchu and bell bottoms so wide they had to be folded to get through a doorway, McCaskey?


For the record - and to be fair to McCaskey - I was probably wearing those goofy Earth shoes, big bell Levis, and a silk shirt as I shoveled the snow: had to keep up appearances.

posted by historymike on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:17:22 pm     #  

Coke-a-cola pants. I have a picture somewhere shovel snow in the blizzard with them on. Not old enough to drive yet though. That is old as dirt.

posted by Molsonator on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:34:08 pm     #  

Let's see. Jan. of '78. I would have had a 'tache, but no Fu. Shoes probably would have been Pete Townsend-type Doc Martens or trusty Converse. Silk shirt a def. possibility. Although flannel was also major part of the wardrobe then. Played the role of Travolta-'Sat. Night Fever' one night, the next I was onstage at Woodstock.

I know this much: was living on my own, no roommates, for first time around this timeframe. Had amazingly simple life that included the occasional girlfriend, a steady job that made the Camaro payment and filled it with gas, a $175/month apartment that was furnished (pretty well, actually) and came with heat included, an exceptionally nice stereo that got used late into the night upon returning from work, as I unwound with a good book and a bag of goodies, and almost never a need to get up the next day before I really wanted to.

Sweet Jesus, where's the transport door to the time machine?

posted by McCaskey on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:58:44 pm     #   3 people liked this

We lived off of Sylvania Ave by the train tracks between Douglas and Upton. We were told at school that our parents were being contacted to come and get us. The teachers gave us a whole week of schoolwork to do at home (and yes, we waited until the the day before going back to get started on it!). The drifts on the north side of the house were so high you could not see out the windows. After a couple of days mom decided it was time to make a supply run. So my mom and my brother and I walked with the sled over the In & Out Mart to see what we could get. We thought it was so cool walking down the middle of Sylvania Ave. no one around. I can still remember the sound of that cold, cold wind... Mom worked as a telephone operator for Ohio Bell and they were begging for people to come in and take over for the people that were already downtown. They were going to send someone with a snowmobile to come and get her.... And to all of you "kiddies" out there, there was no cable tv to watch, it was Ch. 11, 13, 24, and 30 (and on a good day you could get 50 out of Detroit which was the closest thing to "kids tv" that we had). Oh, and no computers/internet either-Shock!

posted by llz on Dec 06, 2012 at 01:01:57 pm     #   2 people liked this

I'm with you, McCaskey. I'd jump into that time machine in a heartbeat, provided I could take with me what I know now.

Much simpler times. I actually had a social life. Few responsibilities. Great job. Lots of FUN! Awesome stereo and a cozy little apartment with no upkeep. sigh

posted by gamegrrl on Dec 06, 2012 at 03:17:26 pm     #  


We walked to that same In and Out market from Harvest Lane. I hated it, the girls loved it. That wind was brutal on exposed parts of skin.

posted by jackie on Dec 06, 2012 at 03:32:04 pm     #  

Meh - the only way I would go back in time is if I was able to keep the wisdom and experience I have gained. I like the present much better, except for the physical toll that goes along with outwitting death for more than a few decades. Being a teenager and young adult was mostly a period of awkwardness, angst, and anger, at least for me.

So: keeping my 48-year-old brain in my 20-year-old body might be intriguing. With what I have learned, I might be an unstoppable force if I could blend my youthful energy with the nearly five decades of accumulated knowledge and sagacity I have managed to pick up. I would at the very least make a killing on sports betting, assuming the Mob did not figure out how much I was hosing them.

posted by historymike on Dec 06, 2012 at 03:59:55 pm     #   1 person liked this

"Meh - the only way I would go back in time is if I was able to keep the wisdom and experience I have gained."

If you time-traveled back to the 1970s, you would be placed in a padded cell after mentioning that some day we would actually be using little, Star Trek communicator devices that would be about the size of a pack of cigarettes and more powerful than the mainframe computers of the 1970s. And you might be executed for authoritatively telling everyone that we would not have flying cars by 2000.

posted by jr on Dec 06, 2012 at 04:46:15 pm     #   1 person liked this

Joe Ashton pointed at Minnesota and called it Mississippi.

posted by Anniecski on Dec 06, 2012 at 04:58:12 pm     #   2 people liked this

I blame the warm and toasty sweater he had on. Not as bad as a "Cosby" special, but oh those stripes...

When I first ran across this, what struck me the most was the warmth of the broadcast and the interaction. Sitting in the newsroom, talking to the camera as natural as talking to your friend (I seem to remember that mindset being drilled into me as a broadcaster way back when--times were different).

Part of the warmth (no pun intended) is the attire. Everybody isn't strait-jacketed into a Brooks Brothers coat and cravat. It looks fairly natural--and non-panicked. When we really get into the heart of winter, dig this thread out and compare this coverage with "Super Whopper Doppler Ploppler 89,000" coverage.

Of course, a consultant today would tell them they are doing it all wrong. :(

posted by oldhometown on Dec 06, 2012 at 05:19:45 pm     #   3 people liked this

"I'm with you, McCaskey. I'd jump into that time machine in a heartbeat, provided I could take with me what I know now."

Fleeting moments of temptation aside, I'd seriously never want to trade what I have now for what I had then. My life today is 100 times richer, just factoring in my wife and children alone.

posted by McCaskey on Dec 07, 2012 at 01:38:35 am     #   1 person liked this

McCaskey posted at 01:38:35 AM on Dec 07, 2012:

"I'm with you, McCaskey. I'd jump into that time machine in a heartbeat, provided I could take with me what I know now."

Fleeting moments of temptation aside, I'd seriously never want to trade what I have now for what I had then. My life today is 100 times richer, just factoring in my wife and children alone.

But if you could go back just long enough to buy a few shares of stock, bet on a game or two, that kind of thing.

posted by madjack on Dec 07, 2012 at 10:23:59 am     #   1 person liked this

Buy gold back in 1978 for $170-$230 bucks an ounce, sell it now for $1600-$1750 an ounce today.

posted by Linecrosser on Dec 07, 2012 at 11:03:06 am     #  

Yesterday (January 26) was the 35-year anniversary of the Blizzard of '78.

This Jan 27, 2013 Toledo Blade article contains local photos from that storm.

Thus far for January 2013, the Toledo area has experienced a fair amount of cold weather, but we've received hardly any snow.

At Toledo Express Airport, only 2.8 inches of snow has fallen this month. The average for January is 10.0 inches.

The total amount of snow that has fallen for the season at Toledo Express is 9.8 inches. The average by now is 19.5 inches.

This week, the forecast predicts rain for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Toledo temps are forecast to be near 60 degrees on Tuesday, but the wintry cold returns by Thursday.

The first day of spring, March 1, is only 33 days away. Meteorologists, ornithologists, and probably some other ologists measure the seasons by the first day of the month each quarter.

posted by jr on Jan 27, 2013 at 09:21:24 pm     #  

Did we/are we going to make up for the lack of snowfall with other precipitation? I don't want more drought.

posted by anonymouscoward on Jan 27, 2013 at 09:31:32 pm     #  

On average, most of Toledo's winter precip comes from rain, not snow. Winter being defined as Dec 1 thru Feb 28/29. If all we got was snow, then farmers would be complaining about drought in the spring, unless we got a ton of snow.

For the entire fall, winter, and spring season, Toledo averages around 35 inches of snowfall. Assuming a 10:1 ratio of snow to liquid precip, that's only 3.5 inches of water. We need the winter rains.

Total precip thus far for the month of January 2013 at Toledo Express is 2.92 inches. Ave for the month to this date is 1.8 inches.

Last month's total precip was 2.15 inches and the average was 2.68 inches.

The average or normal temps and precip that you see listed on TV or wherever are based upon the previous 30 years worth of data.,_Ohio#Climate

Not updated through last year's nearly snowless winter.

Climate data for Toledo, Ohio (Toledo Express Airport), 1981-2010 normals

Average Snowfall - Inches

  • Oct 0.2
  • Nov 1.9
  • Dec 6.8
  • Jan 11.6
  • Feb 9.3
  • Mar 5.6
  • Apr 1.3
  • May 0.1
  • Total: 36.8

Average Precipitation - Inches

  • Jan 2.05
  • Feb 2.07
  • Mar 2.47
  • Apr 3.19
  • May 3.58
  • Jun 3.56
  • Jul 3.23
  • Aug 3.14
  • Sep 2.78
  • Oct 2.60
  • Nov 2.85
  • Dec 2.67
  • Total: 34.19

posted by jr on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:24:08 pm     #