The Blizzard of ’78

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has a retrospective on the Blizzard of 1978. Yes, it gets a capital “B”. It was just that huge. I don’t remember much about it, but it did make something of an impression on my 6 year old mind. Lots of snow; no school. In any case, nothing in the past 30 years has really come close.

Frank Gray has a column on the Blizzard.

To those who didn’t experience it, just accept that no matter how cold it gets, no matter how much it snows, nothing that has happened since can even hold a candle to the storm that roared across the state in late January 1978.


  1. Brenda says

    You child… I was 14 at the time and I remember walking out into the front yard (farm in Southern Michigan) and actually getting stuck in snow over my thighs (and it wasn’t a drift). There was a moment of absurd panic when I realized I couldn’t go any further forward and it didn’t seem like I could go back the way I came either (I think I actually backed up because I couldn’t turn around).

    With ever-advancing technology, I wonder if there *can* be a mid-west blizzard that would have a greater effect on our lives than the Blizzard of ’78 had. So, yes, it just may be the “definitive blizzard.”

    Then there is a part of me that is totally appalled at remembering something clearly that happened… 30 YEARS AGO!

  2. Kaj says

    I’m a blizzard baby. Born the end of September, 1978. I grew up just north of Ft Wayne — there were a lot of us with similar birthdays!

  3. says

    I was 10. Perfect age to enjoy a blizzard. My dad had a frontloader and put the snow from all the neighbors’ driveways in the empty lot next door to us. Mountains of snow to play on. I also remember helping to pack up food, formula and diapers for the volunteer firemen to deliver via snowmobile.

  4. T says

    Yep. This was a time when I was walking to Parkview Elementary in Richmond from the babysitter’s house each day (1st grade). One of the days, I got to spend the morning sitting at the fireplace in the school library rewarming my hands. Don’t remember if that was the beginning or the end of the blizzard. I’m sure my scale is off because I was about three feet tall then, but it seemed like the snowplows had piled the snow almost to the height of the powerlines on the side of the road. Rev AJB might remember that too, since he was walking the same route at the time.

    I’m not sure how you would pile snow that high without a front-end loader or something. But that’s how my almost seven-year-old mind remembered it, anyway.

  5. T says

    Which reminds me… when people talk about how we have to change the clocks to keep the kiddies safe, I recall six year olds were walking in the dark to school in January 1978, at least when the schools were open. Knowing Richmond, I presume we were only off a couple of days anyway.

  6. tripletma says

    I remember front-end loaders working on the highway out in front of my parent’s house. The plows couldn’t just plow the snow out of the way. It had to be lifted on top of the drifts along the side of the road. They ended up being about 20 feet high.

    I also remember the recipe for “beer batter” bread which we made when we ran out of bread and couldn’t get into town for a week.

  7. hm... says

    I remember being snowed in for four days on State Road 1 south of Everton in Fayette County. My dad worked for the state highway dept., was luckily NOT called in to plow. We spent 4 days learning to play euchre. My dad was an old Rural Youth player and a stickler for details and knowing all the rules. After that we never played again. HA!

  8. arnie says

    Another interesting fact. It was mid-March before the snow had melted on the roads and sidewalks in Indy and April before the BIG piles of snow in parking lots were gone. It was remarkable.

  9. says

    I was also 10 at the time, growing up in Cleveland, where we really got some snow. It all didn’t melt away until June! Built an igloo in the backyard.

    Scientists then were warning that the earth was entering a new ice age! Kind of hilarious, considering today’s admonitions.

    • says

      Actually, the consensus, even that far back was that a net warming due to green house emissions was the probable trend. Only the non-scientific types were thinking that another ice age was coming. I studied these things as far back as 1970.

  10. ceb says

    It took three days for the snow plows to get down our street. No one went anywhere. Our milkman had delivered milk and butter the morning of the storm. We had 10 pounds of potatoes, celery and onions. Rev. AJB and T decided that we could make soup. Even tho’ the boys were only seven and nine I let them do everything from peeling potatoes to cutting onions. We all had lots of fun and laughter. The soup was wonderful. Good thing–we didn’t have much else in the house to eat. I enjoyed my two boys during that storm. They kept telling me that with Dad in Texas (where it was 70 degrees) they would take care of me. Ken would call each night and I would tell him that we were actually enjoying ourselves.

  11. Rev. AJB says

    T-Dad was in the south somewhere on a move and was blocked from getting home. He spent the next week or so going back and forth between Florida and Texas. Mom was snowed in with both of us. I remember that we only had ingredients for potato soup, and mom made a big pot of it. We ate it for a few days until she could get shoveled out and get to the store.

    Don’t remember how many days we were out of school-I was almost 9 at the time. I also remember getting frostbite and sitting in front of the fireplace in the library at Parkview. Seems like we had a good cold snap either right before or right after the blizzard.

    And to think…we were a part of history! Today we’d be hearing about such a blizzard coming at us for at least a good four days; maybe longer. Don’t recall having such a warning then.

  12. KJB says

    I encountered the storm in Effingham, Il. and called home to warn everybody. I got as far as Matthews, Mo. that night (very tough going).I parked the truck and the warm tires melted down into the ice. All 18 wheels froze solid. It took lots of effort to get on the road the next day. I ran out of the storm in Memphis. People were amazed at the amount of snow and ice on my truck as I went down the road with C.B. chatter. I spent the next week going back and forth across the south doing loads waiting to come home. I kept hearing from my family that they were eating potato soup that T & Rev. AJB helped make. The family seemed to be having lots of fun. Wish I could have been there with them.

  13. L says

    I enjoyed my boys during the storm. The milkman had delivered milk and butter that morning and we had potatoes, celery and onions. T & Rev. AJB did all the preperation for the soup. It turned out the best I have ever tasted. After eating potato soup for 3 days we never made it again! The boys were so much fun. We watched birds, listned to music and wished Ken was there to enjoy the time with us. The boys kept telling me that they would take care of us. It was a few days that I will never forget.

  14. says

    Great to have the whole clan commenting here!

    My mom wrote me an e-mail with some of her memories of the Blizzard. As luck would have it, my step brothers had just come to start living with us that January. Apparently the Blizzard forced some bonding time on the blended family. Plus, the addition of two teenage boys to the mix put a bit of a strain on the food supply.

  15. unioncitynative says

    Ah yes, that was a blizzard to remember. I was 19 (about to turn 20) at the time and was a Sophomore at Ball State. I don’t recall the number of days Ball State cancelled classes for that but remember one of my cousins (who lives in Mishawaka now but lived in Muncie then) who celebrated a 21st birthday snowbound bigtime. I guess there are negatives to being January 26, 1957! I’ll be turning 50 on March 1 (will probably be getting a black cake with a skull and crossbones on it). I remember going to my aunt’s funeral, who lived in Union City and was buried in Greenville. My aunt passed away in February, 1978, a couple of weeks after the blizzard. It was amazing seeing all of the snowdrifts along Indiana 32 between Muncie and Union City as well as the drifts on Ohio 571 between Union City and Greenville.

  16. slg says

    Party on!!!!!I was at Ball State, Lafayette Complex. The guys took sleds to get kegs because cars could not get out of the parking lot. They brought them to their rooms with pulleys. Looking out of my 8th floor window I saw army tanks going down the road, bizarre. The wind chill was terrible but my friend Mo and I managed to make it to the Chug, Dancing Bear was there too. Some poor sole in a truck picked us up and drove us there. The cafeteria had to feed us peanut butter sandwiches because they had nothing else. I remember the evening Dommino’s Pizza started delivering again.

  17. says

    I walked to my girlfriend’s house in Union City Indiana from just over three miles away. I was using the school, which I knew how to get to, to help me find my way. When I got to UCCHS, the only part that was visible was the gym. A drift had built up as tall as the building and when you walked over it, the gravel on the roof was bare in small patches from the wind scouring.There were places where I knew there were barbed wire fences between fields, but the last mile was a straight shot with my feet constantly nearly two feet off the ground and deeper drifts near the hedgerows.

Leave a Reply