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January 28, 1977: Statewide Blizzard

National Weather Service forecasters called for a blizzard warning across Ohio early on Friday, January 28, 1977. The cold wave and high winds swept across the state at dawn. Temperatures fell from 20 degrees to 5 to 10 degrees below zero during the day. High winds and blowing snow accompanied the cold wave. Winds of 35 to 45 mph, gusting to 60, blew new snow and snow already on the ground into huge drifts and obscured visibility.

Ohio was shut down by the blizzard Friday afternoon with no improvement into Saturday. Schools were closed across the state Friday, as were most of the major airports. Drifts blocked many state highways and some counties were entirely isolated. Stores, factories, and government offices not already closed by natural gas shortages were shut down by the blizzard. Heroic actions performed by the Ohio National Guard, police and fire crews, and hundreds of ordinary citizens saved dozens of lives and gave comfort to hundreds more. These actions kept the death toll to 20 in the blizzard. Kidney dialysis patients and stroke victims were flown to hospitals in National Guard helicopters. Hundreds of stranded Fayette County residents were airlifted to shelter. By Sunday, most roads were opened and most stores and businesses opened Monday morning.


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