CINCINNATI – As area residents bundle up to brave a couple of days of possibly record-setting low temperatures, for many the cold snap harkens back to a nearly once-in-a-lifetime event – the freezing of the Ohio River.
“There was like 2-3 weeks of this kind of weather, from what I recall,” wrote John Richardson of Independence when asked how the current cold snap compares to the deep freeze of 1977. “Off school for about a month with the holidays and closures.”
Starting in early January 1977, the entire Ohio Valley region was so enveloped in cold that the river froze from Pittsburgh to Louisville. As a matter of fact, the National Weather Service recorded 18 mornings out of a 30-day period with low temperatures below zero in Cincinnati. The average temperature in January was just 11.4 degrees.
And the coldest point of the snap was a whopping 25 degrees below zero.
That, of course, didn’t stop area residents from venturing outside.
Some had daily chores to do.
"I was delivering papers in this weather by heavy duty bicycle," reported Robert Hudson. "I'm not sure it built character - I think it just made me hate this weather."
Others though made more of a game of the frigid temps by walking across the Ohio River.
According to The Insiders Guide to Cincinnati, the Coast Guard estimated the ice on the river to be 8 to 12 inches thick.
That thickness was enough for Covington Commissioner Steven Frank's form brother in-law to perform one very risky daredevil feat on the rive.
"My ex brother in law drove his VW Beetle over it," he said.
Of course, WCPO was on the scene to document the event as well.