While the weather on this January 26th, 2018 is quiet, a winter storm 40 years ago to this date was wreaking havoc across the Buckeye State. It came to be known as the Blizzard of 1978. We will go back into that time period and describe how the storm impacted Ohio.
The day before (January 25th, 1978), there were two separate ingredients that were making a collision course for the Lower Great Lakes region. One area of low pressure with the associated Arctic cold front was moving southeast out of Canada. To the south, a low pressure area was developing in Mississippi and Alabama. Blizzard warnings were posted for Ohio as these two areas of low pressure were moving closer to the Buckeye State.
Then it happened. A raging blizzard had developed during the overnight hours, moving northeast from the Ohio River shortly after midnight, to northern Ohio near sunrise. Temperatures the previous night had hovered around freezing. As the two low pressure areas collided, temperatures fell like a rock.
This is the observation reports for the Findlay Airport in Northwest Ohio for the morning and afternoon hours of January 26th, 1978. Temperatures were hovering around freezing between 3:00 AM and 5:00 AM. By 8 to 9 AM, temperatures plummeted to near zero. Heavy snow was falling across Findlay and all of Ohio. The wind gust at Findlay of 58 MPH at one point was relative tame. Cleveland experienced winds 60 to 80 MPH during the blizzard. Essentially, everything shut down across the Buckeye State for several days. The lowest atmospheric pressure recorded at that time was in Cleveland.
The Ohio Turnpike was even shutdown during the blizzard.
40 years ago today, for the first and only time in its history, the entire 241-mile #OHTPK was shut down. It took 77 hours for Turnpike crews, @OHNationalGuard , @OSHP & private contractors to clear and reopen the road at a cost of $530,000. #BlizzardOf78 #SnowDay @OhioHistory pic.twitter.com/DO4jwhVmVy
— Ohio Turnpike (@OhioTurnpike) January 26, 2018
After the storm had passed, the clean up was quite the task. The snow drifted several feet high across the state. It took several days for the snow to be cleared, and for things to return to normal across the state. Fortunately, schools had been closed early enough on the morning of January 26th that no kids were stranded at their respective schools, or on school buses. To this day, the Blizzard of 1978 is still remembered for being one of the worst winter storms Ohio had ever seen. As the saying goes, never say never when it comes to storms like the Blizzard of 1978 occurring again.
Jim Martin – Forecaster
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