Blizzard of 1978January 26th, 2009 at 12:01 am by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, Weather
This is Blizzard Anniversary Day. The Blizzard of 1978 ranks as the #1 snowstorm ever for Grand Rapids and much of Lower Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The barometer reading of 28.28″ in Cleveland still ranks as the lowest non-hurricane barometer reading in U.S. history. Sarnia, Ontario reported a barometer of 28.21″ and Grand Rapids also set a record barometer reading (about 28.68″…I’m at home and don’t have the correct figure). Grand Rapids had 15″ of snow in about 15 hours (19.2 total). Muskegon picked up 52″ of snow in 4 days. The Traverse City area had up to 28″. Houghton Lake and Indianapolis had over 15″ of snow and Lansing recorded over 19″. South Bend recorded a four-day total of 36″. Wind gusts of 42 mph blew the snow off roofs (a good thing). Wind gusts in Ohio topped 80 mph. The storm hit on a Tuesday Night, and many schools didn’t reopen until the following Monday. I measured a snow drift 14-feet high. Drifts in Ohio reached 20-feet. The entire Ohio turnpike was closed as was most of I-75. All air and rail service came to a halt. I was at the station for 3 days without leaving. One news anchor came to work on a snowmobile. For you weather junkies…this storm deepened 40 millibars in 24-hours – we call that “bombogenesis. Seventy deaths were blamed on the storm, including 51 in Ohio. At least 22 people in Ohio died outside while struggling through the blizzard. Another 13 people were found dead in stuck cars, and 13 died in unheated homes. The National Guard were called out in Michigan and Ohio and the University of Michigan closed for the first time in 140 years. Over 125.000 vehicles were abandoned in the storm. It took 3 to 5 days to move the abandoned cars and open the expressways. Read more about the storm here in Michigan, in Ohio, cool pictures and more here. Here’s the governor of Ohio’s voice with a little film. Here’s some eyewitness accounts from West Michigan and video of a newscast from Cleveland. Mark sent a link to pics. from Breckenridge. Leave a comment if you have a memory of the big storm.