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.