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A Summary of the Blizzard of 1978
from NWS Akron, Ohio



SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AKRON OHIO
100 PM EST FEB 1 1978

...THE BLIZZARD OF 78...

TUESDAY JAN 24...TWO SEEMINGLY UNRELATED LOW PRESSURE AREAS SEPARATED 
BY VAST DISTANCES...ONE IN THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO THE OTHER IN 
NORTHERN NORTH DAKOTA...BEGAN TO BECOME ORGANIZED. THE NORTH DAKOTA 
LOW WAS EXPECTED TO PASS NORTH OF OHIO POSING NO GREAT WEATHER THREAT 
TO THE STATE OTHER THAN TO BRING IN COLDER AIR. THE GULF LOW WAS 
FORECASTED TO MOVE GRADUALLY NORTHEAST UP THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY TO 
THE OHIO VALLEY AND THEN NORTHEAST OF OHIO. RAIN WAS EXPECTED TO 
SPREAD INTO THE STATE FROM THIS LOW...CHANGING TO SNOW AS THE COLDER 
AIR MOVED IN BEHIND.

WEDNESDAY JAN 25...ALL THINGS SEEMED TO BE OCCURRING AS FORECASTED AS 
THE GULF LOW MOVED INTO NORTHERN LOUISIANA DURING THE MORNING. THEN 
THE FIRST SIGNS OF SOMETHING MORE OMINOUS BEGAN TO APPEAR. THE NORTH 
DAKOTA LOW STARTED TRACKING MORE SOUTHEAST AND PRESSURES NORTH OF THE 
GULF LOW BEGAN TO FALL RAPIDLY. IT BECAME APPARENT THAT THE TWO LOWS 
WERE ON A VIRTUAL COLLISION COURSE AND THAT COLLISION WOULD TAKE 
PLACE IN OR VERY NEAR THE STATE OF OHIO. PRESSURES CONTINUED TO FALL 
RAPIDLY AHEAD OF THE GULF LOW AS WARM MOIST AIR WAS BROUGHT NORTH. BY 
AFTERNOON HEAVY SNOW WARNINGS WERE ISSUED FOR NORTHWESTERN COUNTIES 
OF OHIO AND A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE STATE. BY 
EARLY EVENING THE PRESSURES HAD DROPPED TO RECORD LOWS THROUGHOUT THE 
BUCKEYE STATE AND THE COLD LOW FROM THE NORTH WAS TRACKING DIRECTLY 
TOWARD OHIO. IT NOW BECAME VERY OBVIOUS THAT A VERY DANGEROUS WEATHER 
SITUATION FACED OHIOANS AND BLIZZARD WARNINGS WERE ISSUED FOR THE 
ENTIRE STATE AT 9 PM. TEMPERATURES ROSE INTO THE 40S AND RAIN 
CONTINUED AS THE DAY NEARED ITS END. THE WIND INCREASED GREATLY TOWARD 
MIDNIGHT AND THE PRESSURE CONTINUED ITS DOWNWARD SLIDE.

THURSDAY JAN 26...BY EARLY THURSDAY HERE AT THE AKRON CANTON WEATHER 
SERVICE OFFICE THE WIND HAD RISEN TO SUSTAINED SPEEDS BETWEEN 25 AND 
30 MPH GUSTING TO OVER 40 MPH. THE PRESSURE WAS STILL DROPPING AND IT 
WAS EVIDENT THAT A STORM OF UNPRECEDENTED MAGNITUDE WAS IMMINENT. AT 
347 AM THE BAROMETER REGISTERED 28.33 INCHES...A FULL HALF OF AN INCH 
LOWER THAN THE PREVIOUS RECORD LOW OF 28.83 INCHES SET ON FEB 25 1961. 
WIND WAS NOW BLOWING AT 30 TO 40 MPH AND GUSTING TO OVER 50 MPH. BY 
430 AM THE COLD AIR MOVED INTO THE LOCAL AREA. TEMPERATURES DROPPED 
RAPIDLY AND THE RAIN CHANGED TO SNOW. THE WIND WAS NOW GUSTING TO 
OVER 60 MPH AND AT 512 AM A PEAK GUST OF 76 MPH WAS RECORDED. BETWEEN 
5 AND 6 AM THE TEMPERATURE FELL 21 DEGREES FROM 34 TO 13 AND 
EVERYTHING THAT WAS WET FROM THE RAIN BECAME ICE. THE TEMPERATURE 
LEVELED OFF AROUND THE 10 DEGREE MARK BUT THE WIND REMAINED HIGH...
SUSTAINED AT 25 TO 35 MPH AND GUSTING TO 40 AND 50 MPH DURING THE 
ENTIRE DAY. REPORTS OF DAMAGE BEGAN TO POUR IN OF POWER LINES DOWN...
TELEVISION ANTENNAS BROKEN OFF...TREE LIMBS AND WHOLE TREES DOWN...
AND BROKEN WINDOWS. ROADS HAD BECOME VAST SKATING RINKS AND DRIVING 
WAS ALL BUT IMPOSSIBLE. THE SNOW WAS BLOWING AND DRIFTING REDUCING THE 
VISIBILITY TO NEAR ZERO. WIND CHILL FACTORS DURING THE DAY FELL FAR 
BELOW THE MINUS 60 DEGREE MARK MAKING VENTURING OUTSIDE EXTREMELY 
HAZARDOUS. 

BLIZZARD WARNINGS WERE CONTINUED THROUGHOUT THE DAY AS OHIO REELED 
UNDER WINTERS WORST STORM IN MANY YEARS. WINDS REMAINED HIGH...SNOW 
BLEW AND DRIFTED...AND ALL TRAVEL AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITY CAME TO A 
VIRTUAL HALT. THIS SITUATION CONTINUED INTO FRIDAY WITH THE BLIZZARD 
WARNINGS BEING REPLACED BY TRAVELERS ADVISORIES AT 440 AM FRIDAY 
MORNING. THESE ADVISORIES REMAINED IN EFFECT THROUGHOUT FRIDAY AS THE 
WINDS DIMINISHED BUT WERE STILL STRONG ENOUGH TO CAUSE CONSIDERABLE 
BLOWING AND DRIFTING...AND RESTRICTING VISIBILITY ON THOSE ROADS THAT 
WERE OPEN. WIND CHILL FACTORS OF MINUS 40 TO 60 DEGREES CONTINUED AS 
WINDS BLEW FROM 25 TO 40 MPH AND TEMPERATURES HOVERED IN THE TEENS.

FOR SHEER MAGNITUDE...THIS MUST RANK AS THE WORST STORM TO HIT THE 
GREAT LAKES REGION IN MANY YEARS. ON THE WEATHER SIDE...RECORD LOW 
PRESSURE READINGS...HIGH WINDS...DRAMATIC TEMPERATURE DROPS AND 
CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WERE ALL BUT UNPRECEDENTED. ON 
THE HUMAN SIDE...THE SUFFERING...DISCOMFORT AND DANGER CAUSED BY 
DISRUPTED POWER...WIND DAMAGE...STRANDED AUTOMOBILIES AND OTHER STORM 
RELATED EVENTS WERE PROBABLY MORE WIDESPREAD THAN IN ANY OTHER STORM 
IN MOST PEOPLES MEMORIES. MANY WEATHER RECORDS WERE BROKEN BUT THAT 
IS WHAT RECORDS ARE FOR AND THOSE ARE JUST COLD STATISTICS. 
UNFORTUNATELY THERE ARE NO RECORDS OR COLD STATISTICS TO MEASURE THE 
HUMAN FACTOR IN A STORM OF THIS VAST SCALE.

$$

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