Toledo Talk

Article source for : 40th Anniversary of the Blizzard of '78

In recorded history, this was one of Ohio's most famous storms, and definitely, the best-remembered storm for Toledo. The stories and images from that storm are still amazing.

The Blizzard of '78 that rocked Ohio occurred on January 26, 1978. It's one of the freakiest storms that has ever been recorded in U.S. weather history.

The storm killed 51 people in Ohio. Over some parts of the state, the winds gusted to around 100 miles per hour. Snow drifts buried vehicles and nearly buried some homes.

Some related links:

* Jan 26, 2003 Toledo Talk : "25 year anniversary of the Blizzard of '78":http://www.toledotalk.com/cgi-bin/comments.pl/20/31 - contains link rot
* Jan 26, 2003 Toledo Blade : "Anniversary rekindles memories of storm":http://www.toledoblade.com/frontpage/2003/01/26/Anniversary-rekindles-memories-of-storm.html
* Feb 7, 2004 Toledo Talk : "Blizzard of '78 NOT for sale":http://www.toledotalk.com/cgi-bin/comments.pl/21/501 - pointed to this Blade "story":http://www.toledoblade.com/frontpage/2004/02/07/Bottled-blizzard-taps-blast-from-past.html
* Feb 4, 2006 Toledo Talk : "Blizzard of '78 revisited!":http://www.toledotalk.com/cgi-bin/comments.pl/20/1880
* Dec 27, 2007 Toledo Talk : "Looking for Blizzard of '78 memories":http://toledotalk.com/cgi-bin/tt.pl/article/9585/Looking_for_Blizzard_of_78_memories
* Jan 18, 2008 Toledo Free Press : "‘Survivors’ tell tales of the Blizzard of ’78":http://web.archive.org/web/20111217154210/http://www.toledofreepress.com/2008/01/18/survivors-tell-tales-of-the-blizzard-of-78/ - dug story out of archive.org, but no images exist.
* Jan 29, 2011 Toledo Talk : "1978 Blizzard Redux ?":http://toledotalk.com/cgi-bin/tt.pl/articleall/77535/1978_Blizzard_Redux_ - some memories told
* WBGU - PBS Documentary : "The Blizzard of '78 Remembered":http://video.wbgu.org/video/1401955660/
* Jan 26, 2015 Toledo Blade : "Monday Memories - Digging Out":http://www.toledoblade.com/memories/2015/01/26/Digging-out.html
* Jan 26, 2018 Toledo Blade : "Blizzard of '78 still measuring stick for all other storms":http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2018/01/26/Blizzard-of-78-still-measuring-stick-for-all-other-storms.html
* January 2018 Cleveland National Weather Service : "40 Year Anniversary of the Blizzard of '78":http://www.weather.gov/cle/event_78blizzard_30year
* January 2018 Wilmington, OH NWS : "The Great Blizzard of 1978":http://www.weather.gov/iln/19780126
* January 2018 Indianapolis NWS : "Blizzard of 1978":https://www.weather.gov/ind/blizzardof78
* January 2018 Indianapolis NWS : "40th Anniversary of the Blizzard of '78":http://www.weather.gov/ind/40thAnniversaryBlizzardof78


br. National Weather Service PDF file titled "Winter 2017-2018 Brings 40th Anniversary of the Blizzard of ‘78":http://www.weather.gov/media/ind/Blizzardof78/BlizzardArticle2018.pdf

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The storm itself, in meteorological circles, would come to be known as the *Cleveland Superbomb,* due to the pressure observed at Cleveland (958 millibars, one of the lowest ever recorded in the United States outside of a tropical cyclone), and the rapid intensification of the low.
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br. Wikipedia article : "Great Blizzard of 1978":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Blizzard_of_1978 :

Old content from the Wikipedia article:

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The Great Blizzard of 1978, also known as the *White Hurricane,* was a historic winter storm that struck the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes from Wednesday, January 25 through Friday, January 27, 1978.

The 28.28 inches (958 millibars) barometric pressure measurement recorded in Cleveland, Ohio *+was+ the lowest non-tropical atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the mainland United States* until the Upper Midwest Storm of October 26, 2010 (28.20" measured at 5:13PM CDT at Bigfork Municipal Airport, Bigfork, MN).

The lowest central pressure for the 1978 blizzard was 28.05" (953 mb) measured in southern Ontario a few hours after the aforementioned record in Cleveland.
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br. Updated Wikipedia article:

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The Great Blizzard of 1978, also known as the White Hurricane, was a historic winter storm that struck the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes regions from Wednesday, January 25 through Friday, January 27, 1978.

The third lowest non-tropical atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the mainland United States occurred as the storm passed over Mount Clemens, Michigan, where the barometer fell to 956.0 mb (28.23 inHg) on January 26

Nearby Detroit, Michigan air pressure fell to 28.34 inches of mercury (960 mbar). At around that same time, the absolute low pressure for this storm was measured at Sarnia, in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, where the barometer bottomed out at 955.5 mb (28.22 inHg). Toronto pressure fell to 28.40 inches, breaking its old record by 0.17.
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br. More from the Wikipedia article:

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On rare occasions, extra-tropical cyclones with central pressures below 28 inches of mercury or about 95 kPa (950 mb) have been recorded in Wiscasset, Maine (27.9") and Newfoundland (27.76").

The blizzard was the worst in Ohio history where 51 people died as a result of the storm. Over 5000 members of the Ohio National Guard were called in to make numerous rescues.

Police asked citizens who had four-wheel-drive vehicles or snowmobiles to transport doctors to the hospital.

From January 26 to 27, the entire Ohio Turnpike was shut down for the first time ever.

The total effect on transportation in Ohio was described by Major General James C. Clem of the Ohio National Guard as comparable to a nuclear attack.
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br. The following info was copied from http://www.bceo.org/78blizzardrev.html


br. --This overview is reprinted from a report by United Press International's Jay Gibian. The report, entitled _Blizzard - An Ohio Broadcast Special,_ was issued February 17, 1978. The report was re-typed here in its original broadcast copy form minus the all-caps rendering, which is how radio copy used to be typed for easier reading by the announcer. -- Webmaster.--

A storm of unprecedented magnitude....that's what the National Weather Service terms the blizzard which whipped Ohio last month. What occurred on January 26th, 1978 in Ohio was not a blizzard. What did occur was even rarer and even more dangerous: a severe blizzard....the worst of winter storms.

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.

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.

With the assistance of Ed Degan....a meteorologist at the Akron-Canton Airport's Weather Service Office, UPI has summarized the development of that storm-of-storms:

On January 24th, two seemingly unrelated low pressure areas, one in the western Gulf of Mexico and the other in northern North Dakota, began to develop.

The North Dakota low was expected to pass north of Ohio, posing no great weather threat to the state. The gulf low was forecast to move gradually northeastward toward Ohio. Rain was expected to develop over the state, changing to snow, as colder air moved in behind the storm system.

On Wednesday, January 25th, all the weather patterns seemed to be occurring as forecast. The Gulf low moved into northern Louisiana during the morning, the other system was moving to the east.

Then the first signs of something ominous began to appear.

The North Dakota low began tracking more to the southeast and atmospheric pressure, north of the Gulf low, began to fall rapidly.

It became apparent to meteorologists that the two low pressure systems were on a collision course....and that collision would occur over, or very near, the state of Ohio.

At 4:30 p.m., the Weather Service issued heavy snow warnings for northwestern Ohio and a winter storm warning for the remainder of the state.

By early Wednesday evening, the low from North Dakota was tracking directly toward Ohio. It then became obvious that a very dangerous weather situation faced Ohioans.

Forecasters issued blizzard warnings for the entire state at 9 p.m., January 25th.

The weather conditions at this time, however, were misleading....and those conditions are blamed for many being surprised by the storm.

Rain had spread over Ohio and temperatures were in the 40s across most of the state. The wind increased slightly as midnight approached, but conditions were more typical of an early spring rain storm, than those preceding a disaster.

Midnight passed, however, and wind speeds continued to increase.

It swiftly became evident that a storm of unprecedented magnitude was imminent.

But then the two storms met and did something that even the meteorologists....who had expected a blizzard....did not foresee. The two low pressure centers twisted together....a very rare and dangerous occurrence. Warm air began to flow into Ohio from the north and colder air into the state from the south.

The rain abruptly changed to snow, spreading northeastward and gaining in intensity.

Wind speeds, by that time, had reached the 70 mile per hour range and gusts of more than 100 miles per hour downed power lines, billboards, mobile homes, and tree limbs.

And then the snow....caught by the strong winds....began to form deep, deep drifts.

An entire semi-trailer truck was buried in one snow bank near Mansfield. The driver was not rescued until nearly a week later.

Hundreds upon hundreds of motorists were stranded in their cars along nearly every highway in the state. The Ohio Turnpike, for the first time in history, was completely shut down. Interstate highways were, for the most part, impassable. Smaller roadways in nearly every county were invisible beneath the snow.

Visibility was often reported at zero.

Electric service to thousands of homes across the state was disrupted. Many persons were forced to leave their frigid homes.

Suffering, discomfort, and danger were, by then, commonplace. Deaths occurred.

Officials urged all Ohioans to remain at home as temperatures dropped to near zero. Wind chill factors across the state plummeted to near 60 degrees below zero.

In all, 35 persons died during that storm. Officials, even today, say some bodies still may be buried in unmelted snow drifts.

The Blizzard of 1978 was, in fact, the worst storm to ever occur in Ohio.


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Other links:

* Jan 21, 2018 - Cleveland Plain Dealer - "Blizzard of 1978 remembered 40 years later by those who survived it (vintage photos, videos)":http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/01/blizzard_of_1978_still_stings.html
* Jan 22, 2018 - Columbus Dispatch - "40 years ago, Blizzard of ’78 killed 51 Ohioans and paralyzed the state":http://www.dispatch.com/news/20180122/40-years-ago-blizzard-of-78-killed-51-ohioans-and-paralyzed-state
* Jan 25, 2018 - Columbus NBC TV station - "Blizzard of 1978 40th anniversary":http://nbc4i.com/2018/01/24/blizzard-of-1978-40th-anniversary/