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January 26, 1978: Statewide Blizzard

The worst winter storm in Ohio history struck before dawn on Thursday, January 26, 1978. The Blizzard of ’78 continued through Thursday and into Friday. Transportation, business, industry, and schools were closed statewide for two days with the normal pace of society not returning to the state for five days. Atmospheric pressure fell to 28.28 inches at Cleveland, the lowest ever recorded in Ohio, as the center of the blizzard crossed Ohio. This rapidly intensifying storm pulled bitterly cold air across Ohio on winds of 50 to 70 mph. These conditions, combined with heavy snow and blowing of deep snow already on the ground, caused extreme blizzard conditions all across Ohio. Enormous snowdrifts covered cars and houses, blocked highways and railways, and closed all airports for two days.

More than 5,000 members of the Ohio National Guard were called to duty and were pressed into long hours of work with heavy equipment clearing roads, assisting electric utility crews, rescuing stranded persons, and transporting doctors and nurses to hospitals. Forty-five National Guard helicopters flew 2,700 missions across Ohio rescuing thousands of stranded persons, many in dire medical emergencies. Thousands of volunteers with snowmobiles and four-wheel drive vehicles responded to pleas from police statewide to deliver medicine and transport doctors and nurses to hospitals. The death toll of 51 made this one of the deadliest winter storms in Ohio history.


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