The Ghost of Snowstorms Past: Remembering The Blizzard of 1978

19 Янв 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
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The Ghost of Snowstorms Past: The Blizzard of 1978

I was a 21 yr old student at The State University in 1978, in an apartment that was about 600 from the Olentangy River. I that because during the of 1978, when the roads became undriveable, but before realized how much … was to hit the fan and had a chance to close down, I out on foot from the back of my apt and walked across the frozen scrambled up its west bank the parking lot of Krogers, and bought as beer and food as I could carry. and then retraced my

My roommate had just purchased an of grass the day before, so we had that covered.

The snowstorm came up of quickly, as I remember. There was not a lot of by the local weathermen in the days up to it. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the weather was mild in fact, especially to what the weather during of that winter had been It was around 40 degrees and rainy. If you to the weather report during the PM news that night and nothing else, you went to bed it to be a little colder the next day some snow. It wasn’t later that night weathermen started noticing the pressure falling rapidly, and realized a significant event was shape.

When it hit, boy did it a blow. It’s the most snowstorm. indeed, a blizzard. I had ever experienced, and nothing I ever experienced since has up to it.

After reading Weatherdude’s about the severe weather for the Southern states, it made me and I thought it would be fun to do a diary this. I’m guessing are many of you who lived through blizzard as well, so there be some good first stories in the comments.

Here is a taken in Indianapolis the day after the hit. It shows how deep the were, and how many motorists stranded and simply abandoned cars. This scene out across the Midwest and Great region. In Michigan alone, than 100,000 motorists their vehicles on that 26.

One of the things I remember about storm was all of the cars that had simply walked away on freeways, major thoroughfares and streets. The snow was very and the winds were so strong and that drifts quickly many of them up and completely them. It was a major complicating for many cities in their to plow and reopen major Those cars had to be removed, or at the very least pushed before plows could through and effectively remove the

Less than two weeks another, distinct Blizzard, hit the New area. It was a double whammy for the and this is one of the more famous taken of that storm’s in Massachusetts:

I’ll try to explain, as I can, how this blizzard was with the understanding that I am no I can regurgitate what I’ve from reading many of the 30 anniversary stories that newspapers published in 2008, as as some of the raw numbers that this storm such an and memorable event. What I however, after reading all of retrospectives, as well as the literally of reader comments that newspaper articles engendered, is how times have changed in the 34 since 1978. That, in ways, is the most fascinating of this story for me. 34 years go by in the of an eye. trust me on this, you whippersnappers. And the societal and technological that have taken since then have, in ways, occurred with rapidity.

As I said in the intro, was to become an epic storm very little fanfare by meteorologists during the 48 hours preceded it. As a result, people caught flatfooted for the most Much of this can be attributed to the more crude weather tools and models that in use then. But some of it can also be by putting the storm in the wider of the months that preceded. The of 1977-1978 was one of the coldest and snowiest (and falls) of the century. of Michigan, for example, had average in the mid to low 20’s during all of January. In South Bend receive 60 inches of snow that and more than 136 of snow that winter. Fort had similar numbers, with avg that January of around 17

So. when the weatherman issued a storm alert the day before, a few inches of snow, there was a sense of stoic resignation and old, same old. The forecasters didn’t realize how bad it was to be, and people at home had grown jaded by what had already a long stretch of cold, weather.

The storm began as two low pressure systems. One, down out of Canada (known as an Clipper), had a huge mass of arctic air that was pouring into the upper Plains and on the wings of a strong jet stream. The began in East Texas and with an equally huge low system pushing wet air from the easterly towards Georgia. not uncommon for two separate systems this to unfold simultaneously the winter. What is uncommon is for to converge, with the upper jet streams syncing in a way that them into one massive system. The weather modeling at the time simply couldn’t that.

By The Numbers

The raw numbers of the of 1978 tell one tale. And a tale worth recounting. By the afternoon/early evening of January 25, in Indiana presaged the scope of was about to unfold. Snow set records that would for more than 30 years. But it so much the amount of snow. it was the that it was driven by such winds. This blizzard has described as a White Hurricane, and no exaggeration. The winds were force. Sustained winds in of 40 MPH. There were gusts measured in excess of 100 The snow didn’t fall in soft, large, wet flakes. It was by high winds. In frigid It was granular. It met the ground in a horizontal and for anyone outside whose was unprotected, it felt like you being sandblasted instead of upon.

Muskegon, Michigan, which upon the Lake, registered than 30 inches of snow on Jan 26. many localities were snowfall in excess of 2 inches per and it lasted most of a 24 hour But the snow, being so dry and wind was fickle. some areas were level had vast of area that were barren of snow, because the dropped so suddenly, while it mercilessly in other areas to up to 25 feet. As a result of the sustained the snow was not your usual white drift. It was mixed pine needles, leaves, even bark. and piled up in a mix that left some covered up to their roofline on one and bereft of snow on the other.

The estimate is that some 70 to 80 … in this blizzard. were, undoubtably, many Ohio alone accounted for 51 of deaths. How did they …? By the count:

22 died while away from vehicles have abandoned.

13 died of their stranded cars, from exposure or carbon fumes.

13 died inside of homes which had lost

2 died when the buildings were inside of collapsed the stress of snow and wind.

1 from unspecified causes.

There were almost more. Unlike today, the attributed to this storm had to a higher standard of causality in to be ascribed to the storm. There almost certainly several who died from heart either from shoveling from their driveways, or other stress related to the aftermath. Some probably due to complications of existing health that went untreated in the aftermath of the storm, because of inability to leave the house to medical attention.

When the unfolded, it unfolded with rapidity that local were shocked. In Akron, the pressure dropped so suddenly and so that the instrument that such swings was unable to the full magnitude of the pressure on its chart paper. It literally off the chart, and the local weatherman had to the instrument and load a second, width paper in order to get an reading. There were weather stations that a drop in barometric pressure of 40 within the period of less 24 hours as the storm passed In Cleveland, Ohio, the lowest recorded was 958 mb, a (non-tropical) record for the US stood until just 2 ago.

There have other storms that dropped more snow, but particular storm was more the sum of its parts. It wasn’t just the which was significant. it was the sustained which were high, the of the event, the cold temps, the outages, phone outages, drifts of more than 25 ft, the upon our transportation infrastructure at the It took several days to from these things, and the National Guard and its, at the substantial assets in terms of and manpower.

But as I mentioned, the really aspects of this storm or to be on a more macro level. One help, when reading of the event, but to wonder how such an might play out today. has changed.

The technology of weather has improved dramatically over the 34 years. A storm such as would never catch us by again. It would be endlessly for 3 days in advance, if not more, in the 24 news cycle. In 1978 was no 24 hour news cycle. But were local radio which had real, live and deejays. Today? When’s the time you scanned the AM and FM radio on your radio and tried to local news? I remember of the stations in Columbus abandoning formats and just doing news and community service They became almost a for some people.

1978 was the dark ages cell phones, remember. In we were all still renting our line phones from Ma whose monopoly wouldn’t be up for another six years. Hundreds of lost phone service to mention power) during the People who got stranded on the road, or at or who sought shelter with were in many instances to contact their family to let them know they okay. Without cell or texting, radio became a of getting word out.

In all of the many first hand posted in comments to news one image that sort of shape for me was that the almost sea that has occurred in the generational and response to events like People woke up that looking outside and said this is going to be bad. And they got the snow shovel clearing the driveway, while in their mind the best way to get to To be sure, this storm down a lot of business and transportation. But I can trudging to the grocery store on and I wasn’t alone. It’s how many people attempted and to make it in to their workplace, it was just what you did. of them made that only to find out when got there that the business was to close, and they had to make it home again.

Schools did close, but there thousands and thousands of kids walked to school that because this was before were used to take in the city to their local and there was no radio or TV announcements school closures. The kids got up, Mom them a hot bowl of oatmeal and them to bundle up good, and them off to school. Of the 70 people who in the storm, none were who … in the snow on their way to

Now? In Oregon, I think it is into the state constitution in the event of snow accumulations in of 1.5 inches, all private and public close down. 2 inches or and the Governor must immediately federal disaster status. has, all sarcasm aside, a noticeable evolution over the 4 decades in what is considered an risk and inconvenience factor in the of weather events such as I’ll just leave it at

So. where were you in 1978? you in the path of either of those two blizzards, or not yet a gleam in your eyes? Maybe you were on of the of Blizzard Babies born in and November of that year?

AM PT . I want to thank everyone who a story here. it’s fun reading them all and getting a of where people I know by their screen names and over the years were at the

Originally posted to Keith930 on Thu Dec 27, at 03:05 AM PST.


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