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Blizzard of ’78

By Tori Nix


Thirty-six years ago, the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes were paralyzed by one of the worst winter storms to ever hit the region. Known as the “Great Blizzard of 1978”, this storm dumped large amounts of snow across the region and wide-spread hurricane-like winds created enormous drifts.

Just before dawn on January 26, 1978, the merging of the subtropical jet stream and the polar jet stream that caused the barometric pressure to drop by forty millibars within twenty-four hours, would create one of the worst winter storms that would last for two days, yet society wouldn’t return back to normal until the following week.

The storm dumped a total of three feet from January 26 to January 27 causing airport delays due to white-out conditions, and stranding many people in their homes and cars. Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and southeast Wisconsin were the hardest hit areas of the Great Blizzard.

A total of fifty-four people died in the Ohio Valley as a result of the storm, and even now, thirty-six years later, people never forget the “Great Blizzard of ‘78”. A legend to those who lived through it, this once-in-a-lifetime storm will always be the standard by which the severities of all future winter storms to hit this region are judged.




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