A snow blast from the past: The blizzard of 1978

Posted at 7:38 AM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 09:46:22-05

CINCINNATI -- Thirty-eight years have passed since the Blizzard of '78, but for so many Tri-State residents, it's still fresh in their memory. This storm paralyzed the region by stopping transit, shutting down businesses and closing schools for days. 

This unusual weather setup on Jan. 26, 1978, led to a blizzard of historic proportions.

A unique setup led to this severe blizzard in the Ohio Valley. Two areas of low pressure merged together and it caused "explosive intensification" as the low moved over Kentucky and Ohio, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Wilmington, Ohio. 

Blizzard conditions began in Cincinnati around 1 a.m. Jan. 26 and spread to Dayton and Columbus a few hours later. This lead to visibilities near zero for much of the day as high winds whipped across our area and heavy snow fell. The NWS says winds even gusted up to 69 mph in Dayton and 82 mph in Cleveland!

In all, Cincinnati recorded 6.9 inches of snow, but it was difficult to measure due to high winds and snow drifts. Heavier snow was recorded to the north.

The 1978 blizzard froze transit throughout the Tri-State.

The National Guard was activated in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. These men and women helped clear roads, restore power, perform emergency rescues and deliver food and medicine along with transport medical personnel to hospitals, according to the National Weather Service. 

The death toll rose to 70 from this snowstorm. Five people lost their life in Kentucky, 11 in Indiana and 51 in Ohio. Another loss you wouldn't think of right away is the agricultural loss. The NWS says that $73 million was lost due to dead livestock, lost production, property damage, and milk and egg loss.

This Covington, Kentucky, business felt the pain of the snow and cold.

Would you like more behind this story along with additional pictures? The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio, posted a fantastic article on its website that you should check out! That is where all information from this story was sourced.

NWS Story: