This past Wednesday, much of Ohio got what was hopefully the last blast of winter weather before the official start of spring on March 21st. Some parts of the state got blanketed with over half a foot of snowfall, reminding us of winter storms of years gone by.
Many Ohioans remember the Blizzard of 1978, when a series of three winter storms slammed the Midwest and Northeast during late January and early February. These storms were some of the most severe winter events to occur in recent history, and collectively are known as the Blizzard of 1978. The second storm found Ohio in its path, and from January 25th to 27th, between one and three feet of snow fell across Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
More than 5,000 members of the Ohio National Guard were called into duty, pressed into long hours clearing roads, assisting utility crews, rescuing stranded persons, and transporting medical staff. Winds averaged between fifty and seventy miles per hour, creating snowdrifts as deep as twenty-five feet. With temperatures already hovering near zero, the wind chill was deadly, reaching sixty degrees Fahrenheit below zero at times. Over seventy people died in this storm; fifty-one of the victims were in Ohio.
Soon after, the spring thaw brought a whole new set of problems with flooding, as seen in the above photograph from western Marion County.
Speaking of flooding, we are coming up on the 100-year anniversary of the Flood of 1913. But that major weather event also was preceded by a significant snowstorm, pictured at left in Amherst, Ohio. George Sabiers stands outside Sabiers Candy Store on Church Street next to a pile of snow nearly as tall as he is! The heavy winter precipitation contributed to the devastating statewide floods in March of that year.
Just a couple years prior, Ohio struggled with the snowstorm of 1910. On January 6th, 1910, the Wooster Daily News reported that six inches of snow had fallen on Wayne County. By January 18th, rain added to the already-overflowing banks of several creeks in Wayne County, creating floods in the Wooster, Applecreek, and Killbuck regions. An additional 9 inches of snow fell overnight on January 22nd, and by February 12, the Wayne County Democrat documented that snow had been on the ground in Wooster and Wayne County for 50 consecutive days!
Explore some more of the history of winter weather in Ohio on Ohio Memory, and let’s count ourselves lucky that spring is on the way!
Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!