Dear Tom,

I’ve recently heard references to the Blizzard of 1978. Can you tell us about that storm?

Thanks, Avery Johnson

Dear Avery,

The Blizzard of 1978 was an intense winter storm that battered a large portion of the Midwest with paralyzing winter weather. The storm began as a rapidly intensifying low-pressure system in northern portions of Mississippi and Alabama that produced an outbreak of thundersnow in the Ohio Valley. East of the storm in the warm sector, tornadoes broke out, most notably an F-3 twister near Quantico, Virginia. The deepening storm moved northeast into Ohio and then north into Michigan, reaching peak intensity early on January 26 with a barometer reading of 28.21 inches. Cleveland reported wind gusts to 82 mph. Heavy snow and very strong winds produced widespread blizzard conditions in areas from eastern Wisconsin and northeast Illinois into Michigan and Indiana where the heaviest snowfall totaled as much as 30 inches. Seventy people perished in the storm, many freezing to death in their vehicles. In Chicago, snowfall totaled more than 12 inches, with five straight hours of whiteout conditions on January 26. Peak winds in the city were clocked at 54 mph.