Remembering the Blizzard of ‘78

Map of record temperatures and snowfall Jan. 1978

Here at the Beacon we asked readers to submit their stories from the Blizzard of ’78. With the record amount of snow and visibility restrictions it certainly sounds memorable. Even though we have had a lot of snowfall in our area this January, it can’t compare with the Blizzard of ’78. What can compare, though, is the record cold.

In Jan. 1977, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center reports that in Ohio throughout the month 307 record low temperatures were broken and 46 were tied with data going back to the late 1800s. This year we face comparable cold along with heavy snowfall. Perhaps this will be a month we will tell our children and grandchildren about.

Jan. 26, 1978

Stories of the Blizzard of ‘78

At the time of the great blizzard of ’78 I was a school bus driver for Sandusky City Schools, Cedar Point Run. The night before the storm hit the heavy snow began, coming from the southwest across the Cedar Point Roadway and out over Lake Erie. During the night the Cedar Point crew had plowed the road several times. Come morning, the snow had drifted level with the top of the plowed snow, creating a level playing field. The crew continued plowing as long as necessary. When the school buses were finally able to travel the road, it was like driving down a roofless tunnel. The snow was piled to the top of the school bus and as high as the roofs of the buses. The outside mirrors on the bus just barely cleared the sides of the snow tunnel.

Some of the homes in the area were constructed in the 30s and 40s when the snow had drifted around the front of the houses. The students had to leave the houses by an upstairs window and slide down the snow banks to get to the bus. We had police car escorts for three weeks until roads were clear enough to travel by ourselves. All in all, it was an interesting experience.

Rollin T. MacDonald

I was in a nine car pileup on 250 and I had hit a police cruiser. The visibility was horrible and the roads were very slick and I was a young driver. My father, who unknowingly was seven cars back, got out of his car and said “I bet a woman caused this accident!”

When he walked towards where the accident had happened he saw that I was the one who hit the police cruiser and started the accident. All I could say was “Hi dad!”

Connie Roberts

I was heading to Norwalk from Port Clinton on my way to a job interview at the railroad which I was hoping would be cancelled when the blizzard really hit. I was just approaching the Edison Bridge when it was being closed. I was sitting in the right lane and a car was stopped next to me in the left lane that had two people in it. I could barely see the car next to me the wind and snow was so harsh.

We had rolled our windows down a little bit to try and talk to each other when BOOM! A garbage truck slid right into the car shooting it forward. Visibility was so bad that I couldn’t even see where the car went; all I could see was the garbage truck that was suddenly next to me. The people that were in the car were okay, but I will never forget that.

Jack Cupp, Jr.
Oak Harbor

Jan. 26, 1978: our oldest daughter, Jennifer, was having her seventh birthday. We had scheduled a party at McDonalds and there were two little girls who called to see if the party was still on. I’m sure they were hoping, but 27 hours without power and they still thought we were could have had the party!

Jodie Mackey

I spent the first several days of the Blizzard of ’78 in a Sandusky hospital.  Our son Jack had arrived at 5:30 the night before and John was eager to get home because the news said a bad storm was coming.  Our three year old daughter Emily was staying with my parents in a farmhouse near Vickery.  They were without power for over 60 hours.

Mary Gibson

I had been up for many hours waiting for “that baby” to get here, so when I finally got home from the Sandusky Good Samaritan Hospital about 11 p.m. I fell into bed and would have slept through the first hours of the Great Blizzard (probably until I became aware that we had no heat and I was cold).  But, fortunately, our friend Ron Gecsi called about 5 a.m. to say, “My barometer has about fallen off the wall, and I think something bad is coming”.  It was still raining and I quickly got up and filled sinks, basins, and buckets with water (we were on a well), retrieved my scanner radio from the car and connected it to a large battery and got around some flashlights.  Very quickly the winds and snow arrived and power was out.  I moved the parakeet to my basement office and covered him with his cage cover. From then through the next 30 plus hours I slept in a sleeping bag on the couch in the living room where I could listen to rescue activities on the scanner and answer the phone.  I survived on brownies that MJ had baked just before Jack was born.  I also had a Coleman lantern for a little warmth and light.  The pre-stored water was a lifesaver (both for drinking and for flushing the toilet).  And, the parakeet survived just fine.  I finally got to see my new son on Sunday.  It wasn’t long after this that Ron and I went to Fremont and bought generators and I had an efficient wood-burning stove installed in our basement family room.  Be prepared is the Boy Scout motto and one I have observed since that experience.

John Gibson

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