The Biggest Blizzard in the History of Ohio That Shut Down the State

On January 26, 1978, Ohio experienced the most severe blizzard in its recorded history. The storm, which was part of a larger weather system that affected the Midwest and the Northeast, brought heavy snow, strong winds, and record low temperatures to the state. The blizzard paralyzed Ohio for several days, causing widespread damage, power outages, and fatalities.

The Storm

The blizzard was caused by a low-pressure system that developed over the Gulf of Mexico and moved northeastward, intensifying as it encountered cold air from Canada. The storm reached Ohio on the evening of January 25, and continued to dump snow until the morning of January 27. The snowfall amounts ranged from 7 to 40 inches, with drifts up to 25 feet high. The wind gusts reached up to 100 mph, creating whiteout conditions and wind chills as low as -60°F. The storm also brought thunder and lightning, a rare phenomenon in winter.

The Impact

The blizzard had a devastating impact on Ohio and its residents. The storm closed all major highways, airports, schools, and businesses. Many people were stranded in their cars, homes, or shelters, unable to get food, water, or medical help. The storm caused widespread power outages, affecting over a million customers. The storm also damaged buildings, vehicles, crops, and livestock. The blizzard claimed 51 lives in Ohio, mostly due to hypothermia, heart attacks, or accidents. The storm also injured hundreds of people and caused an estimated $210 million in damages.

The Response

The blizzard prompted a massive response from the local, state, and federal authorities. Governor James Rhodes declared a state of emergency and mobilized the National Guard and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to assist with rescue and recovery efforts. President Jimmy Carter also declared a federal disaster area and sent federal aid and resources to the state. The Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other relief agencies provided food, water, blankets, and shelter to the storm victims. The utility companies worked around the clock to restore power and service to the affected areas. The storm also inspired acts of heroism and generosity from the citizens, who helped each other survive the ordeal.


The blizzard of 1978 was a historic event that tested the resilience and spirit of Ohio and its people. The storm was a natural disaster that brought unprecedented challenges and hardships to the state. However, the storm also brought out the best in the people, who showed courage, compassion, and cooperation in the face of adversity. The blizzard of 1978 is a reminder of the power of nature and the strength of human nature.

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