This winter has been mild and for those of us who have lived through a few more winters than we’d like to admit, we remember the worst snowstorm of the last half-century or so: The great Blizzard of 1978.
Where were you, and what was your experience?
It started so innocently. I was in Columbus at the time, a 19-year-old sophomore at Ohio State University. I had worked a late shift at a Wendy’s on North High Street north of campus on Jan. 25, 1978 — the night before the blizzard hit. And I remember how unseasonably warm and blustery it was. Breezy, warm, and raining.
In Dayton, it was 40 degrees and raining at midnight, according to news reports at the time. Just five hours later, the temperature had plummeted to zero, the winds were howling, and the snow had begun, in both Dayton and Columbus.
The Blizzard of ‘78 still stands as the greatest single-day snowfall in Dayton history, at 12.9 inches, officially. But it wasn’t about the snow accumulation. It was the wind. Wind gusts of near-hurricane strength barreled through the Dayton area and the rest of Ohio. Port Columbus Airport recorded a peak wind gust of 69 mph, only 5 mph short of hurricane force. Those winds, combined with the foot of snow, created massive snow drifts several feet high.
I still recall the sight of my roommates car, parked on East Norwich Street in Columbus. It was, quite literally, frozen into place. The rain of the previous night had been rushing down the curbs, and it had frozen solid when the temperatures plummeted. That car wouldn’t didn’t anywhere for days. And for that matter, neither did we. Classes were canceled, and we did what just about every other Ohioan did: we stayed put.
Who else remembers that historic storm? Tell us your experiences in a comment.
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