Do You Remember the Blizzard of 1978? Or a Story of My Birth

Though I can’t seem to find a lot of articles of it on the net, here is a weather perspective of it, and here is stories and a little bit of footage.
As for the story of my birth? Here it is as relayed to me:
On January 25, it started snowing pretty hard, but my mother wasn’t worried, I wasn’t due for another three weeks.
Over the next day and a half, the weather didn’t seem to let up any, and she started to feel contractions.
In the house were my grandmother, my aunt, and my mother. My grandfather was stuck in the next village, along with dozens of other travelers. Then my mother’s water broke.
Now, this was out in the country, the nearest village was fifteen minutes away, and the nearest hospital was a half hour away. On a good day. Between my grandparent’s house and the highway was a lot of fields.
My grandmother made a lot of phone calls, trying to get help out to them. But with the storm still raging, and at this point there were drifts up to ten foot tall. My mother’s contractions were still not close enough together to worry about they reassured her, and snowmobiles would be out as soon as possible.
But my mother’s contractions increased quickly, and she knew something would have to be done.
So quickly she made calls around the neighborhood. I use the term neighborhood loosely, because it was a farming community, and there were acres between neighbors. My great aunt came, another neighbor from a road over came, and help in the form of a veterinarian and his wife came. I guess my grandmother figured if he could deliver animals, this might not be so different. At the same time, my grandmother was fielding advise from the CB radio. My grandfather, stuck in the next village, had found a doctor, and several EMT people, and they were trying to help walk her through it.
At 6:38 AM on January 27, I was born. Despite the weather, and help being on it’s way, I could wait no longer. I was named after my grandmother (Alberta), the vet who delivered me, an uncle, and a cousin (Robert).
Two days later, help was able to make it in the form of snowmobiles. And a day after that, the road was cleared enough to get me to the hospital. I made the newspapers, and several of the stranded travelers who got to ‘witness’ and the neighbors all made sure to come see me.
The vet who delivered me passed away a while back, but his wife was a teacher at the school I attended, and she would always make sure to give me a card and a little gift. Now she’s principal at the girls’ school, and this year she sent a card home again. Any time I go to the school, she parades me around, and pronounces me her ‘extra’ child.

Each year, around this time, if we get any snow storms, or good accumulations of snow, they always compare it to that blizzard. It never seems to quite compare, but I’ll always have a very good story to tell about that storm.

I remember the Blizzard of 78 very well. I was 6 at the time: too young to worry about supplies or shoveling , but old enough to play in the snow and appreciate school being canceled for a week.

That was a heavy snow year & started earlier in the season than that as I recall. I was in SE Michigan in high school at the time. We were doing a fund raiser for our marching band and were scheduled to play for Santa’s arrival at a local mall. Terrible snow that morning, but the band made it. Santa, however, did not.

I was nine. I remember a couple of things - our street being plowed with road grader. The snow forts we had.

Hearing that several people had thought to wait out the storm in their cars on the Turnpike. And were found frozen a week later.

And the week off from school was fun. Cold meals for that same week wasn’t such fun, though - it sure made my mother shorter tempered. :wink:

I was 8, and I remember it well. I lived in the Chicago area. My most vivid memory was of walking down the sidewalks. The sidewalks in my neighborhood were kept shoveled, but at some points the snow on either side was piled so high that it was above my head; it was like walking down a trench.

I also remember the playground at school. The snowplows would clear out the playground by pushing the snow to the edges of the property. Eventually, the piles of snow around the perimeter got to be enormous. They probably weren’t quite the mountains they seemed to my 8-year-old self, but I can remember standing on them and being well above the heads of the teachers. (These days, the school would probably be too safety-minded to let kids play like that.)

I was 15, 2 weeks off of school, yea! Then my grandfather called, he needed help delivering home heating oil. He was going to pick me up a 5am the next am. The next 7 days: up at like 4:30am, out in the cold, dragging a hose through the snow drifts, shoveling out peoples fill pipes, standing around in the cold till the tank was filled, smell the oil, back to grandpa’s around 7pm, eat, to bed, then do it again, weekends too. First time I learned what work was like. All my friends had a great time in the snow. Seeing some of the damaged houses along the beaches was pretty cool though.


If this is the same storm that I’m remembering, we were out of school for a couple of weeks (at least) in Kentucky. Our street had ice ruts from people trying to stay in the same line as the car in front… unfortunately, there were only three ruts, which meant getting the car out of a 6 inch rut to let the other guy pass.

Central Kentucky simply was not set up to handle this, and adopted their usual response (at the time) - minimal plowing, let it melt off. In '78 it stayed below freezing for a long time, so the strategy didn’t work.

Oh, and the initial blizzard ended with a bout of freezing rain, so all the snow had a 1 to 2 inch crust of ice on top. Good times.

i was gonna post this in the ‘how cold have you ever been,’ thread, but then i found this one.

the blizzard of 1978 closed the state of indiana. and we weren’t the only one out of business for a couple of days. peak winds of 55mph during that two day period resulted in a wind chill of 40 - 50 below and the snow was ungodly. until then i’d never been that cold in my life - nor seen it snow sideways. and i’ve never experienced either since. :stuck_out_tongue:

here’s the cite from noaa.

i was in class at ball state in muncie, indiana, in the early afternoon (somewhere around 1 pm) of the 25th. we were cooling our heels in class, waiting on our meteorology prof - believe it or not - who was inexplicably running late. i was the only upperclassman present (finishing up my elective requirements to graduate), so they all turned to me for answers. ‘twenty for a grad ass, ten for a prof,’ i told them.
just as i said that, in the door blows the prof. he looked like ten miles of bad road – clothes wrinkled, tie at half mast, bags under his eyes the size of texas… with this plethora of info, it didn’t take a rocket scientist mentality for us kiddies to sniff out that something was up. something big. 'go home,’ he told us flatly. ‘if you commute, leave now and i mean now. we’re in the path of the meanest snowstorm i’ve ever seen. class dismissed.’

with that, he evaporates. not having to be told twice that class was officially kaput, so do we. i assume any commuters heeded the warning and made tracks. for their sakes i hope so. i however, was a dorm dweller. no particular rush for me. back then, muncie was (and probably even more so today) a pretty sprawly campus. i was as far away from my dorm as it was possible to be.
any ball state grads reading will remember how far menk hall was from the geo building. a fur piece to walk.

so, for grins and giggles, i amble my way to the english building about halfway between the geo building and menk, where radio station wbst used to be before the ‘david letterman shrine’ was constructed. thankfully, i wasn’t scheduled to be on the air that night, which i am grateful for to this day. fool that i am, i just wanted to see what was going on.

the station bullpen looked like somebody had kicked over an anthill. the place had gone bonkers. there were people running around working that i only saw maybe once or twice a year. that’s when i found out just exactly what was headed our way. within 60 seconds of darkening the door, i got put to work. i did on-air rip and read for hours. we couldn’t stay ahead of the ap and upi wire dispatches there was so much information being sent down the line. finally, i surgically detached myself around 6 pm saying i had a sorority thing that night (i really did) and made my escape.

by then, conditions were nearly whiteout the snow was so heavy. there were more than a couple of inches on the ground already, more piling up almost by the minute and it was cold, but nothing like it became. fortunately, three years of tromping the campus allowed me to autopilot home safely.

i can remember sitting in a chair in front of the picture window of our suite (ball state didn’t allow female sorority housing. i don’t know if that’s changed since or not) and watching the snow travel sideways in the air just two hours later. the wind was unbelievable. and we silly girls were out walking in that to a nearby charity event – which as you might imagine wasn’t well attended that evening.

and, my night wasn’t over. somewhere around 11pm there’s a knock on my door. menk was the first co-ed dorm at ball state. guys on first floor, girls on second, and so on. i was on 4. my roommate opened the door to a bunch from 1. seems the boys needed a beer run and at 21, i was the only game in town. :stuck_out_tongue:

i think back on this, shudder, and can only conclude ‘stupid youth.’

too stupid for words, off we all went. in a volkswagon beetle. yep, a 1967 beetle. there had to be six inches of snow on the road. it was insane. the only way we got there was because the wagon was so heavy with people it didn’t lose traction, i guess. we cleaned out a local liquor store, which had already suffered some previous serious hits. iirc, we put something like ten cases of beer in that poor car. it’s a wonder the shocks didn’t give out on it. or that we didn’t get stuck in a snowdrift somewhere.

being out in that kind of storm was surreal! nothing else moved. even the snowplows weren’t running. but, we made it back, and the rest is history. probably the best dorm party we ever had, and menk had more than a few of them.

then, we decided to go outside somewhere in the wee hours of the 26th. the wind was so strong by then it had blown out plate glass windows in the fishbowls of the dorm complex. once we saw that, despite the copious amounts of beer consumed we decided discretion was indeed the better part of valor and headed back inside where it was warm and safe and there was more nice cold beer waiting for us. and that’s my tale of the blizzard of '78. :smiley:

I sure do. I was 7. We were also out of school for over a week. There were drifts around our house that went WAY over my head and I remember my mother warning me not to play in them for fear I’d drown or suffocate or freeze or I don’t know what.

We had our driveway plowed and the resulting mound of snow hardened into a snow fort that lasted for over a week. The snow was so deep, my friends and I were able to dig a few tunnels leading to the fort. And I broke my nose by sledding face first into a tree in one of my neighbor’s yards. Good times.

I was 10. We had just moved house (about 15 miles) and were taking the week to unpack before my mother enrolled the kids in school. Just as she was about to get us out of her hair after a looong week, the blizzard hit. We were home, cabin fever increasing, for about three weeks, I think, before my new fifth grade class finally welcomed me as only a roomful of junior-high-wannabes can.

I was in medical school in Fort Worth, TX and we had an ice or snow event every tuesday that month of January and classes were cancelled on Wednesday. I had a class that semester that only met on Wednesday afternoon! We razzed the professor, telling him that God did not want us to take his class, so he should take a hint and give us all “A’s” and the afternoon off for the rest of the semester.

I don’t remember the blizzard because I didn’t turn one until April of that year, but the younger brother of one of my classmates was also born during it. Unlike your folks, his parents decided to try to get to the hospital, but as you’d expect, their vehicle got mired before they got to the hospital. This resulted in the classmate being present while his brother was delivered in the family van. He was quite pleased not to remember the event :slight_smile:

I was 18 and attending college at a commuter campus in Fort Wayne. I don’t recall what time the storm started but I was at home at my parents, looking out the window, and saying, “Nope, no snow yet”… “Not snowing yet” … “Wonder when it’s gonna snow?” … “Still not snowing”.

Somebody should have taped my mouth shut. It wasn’t long after that it started snowing and blowing beyond anything we had ever experienced before. It didn’t let up for days. Finally, about the third or fourth day, a snowplow finally made it down our road.

The day following the biggest brunt of the storm, a nearby neighbor stopped in on his John Deere tractor to see if we needed anything. He was on his way in to town … to get cigarettes. He was able to navigate by traveling through the flat fields where the snow had blown down to just a few inches. By avoiding the drifts, he made it all the way.

We lived in a very rural area and neighbors were measured in miles. There was a HUGE drift between our house and the nearest neighbor. It was at least 3 or 4 days before we saw the first glimmer of humanity in the form of a snowplow. The only way the gigantic v-shaped plow could get through the drift was to ram it, back up, ram it again, back up, ad infinitum until he finally broke through to the other side. The result was similar to the sidewalks described up thread…+10’ tall mounds of snow piled on either side of a very crooked single lane of travel.

The other strongest memory was that my dad paced the house back and forth, jingling the change in his pockets, driving me and my mom bonkers. Being caged in the house for 4 days was not his idea of a good time.

The Blizzard of '78 was quickly followed by the Flood of '78 when the snow melted surpassing the flood levels of three local rivers.

Not a pretty sight.

Closer to a month for us in Hardin county. That was neat but I hated making it up in the summer. My mother couldn’t get her car up our driveway; she had to park in an empty lot next to our house and struggle upslope through the layers of snow and ice. She took us four older kids to the grocery, on foot, and we made a mini-wagon train hauling bags back home. The stores ran out of stuff like milk and bread quite a bit before the deep snow melted enough to let the trucks get through. The best thing I remember though is my brothers and I constructing a giant igloo then dyeing it using all of Mom’s food coloring. That sucker took a loooong time to melt. Naturally we built it right where Mom usually parked her car.

I was 20 and a college student. All the schools in Boston closed for a week, even Harvard, which I believe had never closed for a snowstorm before. Or something like that.

The food in the dormitory got progressively more non-perishable as the week went by, since no fresh food deliveries could be made. By the end of the week it was all canned string beans and mandarin oranges. I remember actually being pretty impressed at how well they managed to feed us under the circumstances.

My boyfriend walked 20 miles through the snow (honest) to come see me, and spent the week in my dorm room. Good times.

I think (if it was the same storm) is was one of only two times school was cancelled growing up in Montana. We didn’t go to school for 3 days. It was pretty cool - my dad had to get ferried home from work on a snow mobile, and we lived in town (Missoula, MT). I was 5, and it was sooo cool, but only because we knew how to deal and were pretty well prepared. Snow plows dug us out 2-3 days later.

The other time was when the temperature got to be -47 F without windchill; with the wind chill it was like -100. So they shut school, fearing students would get frostbite walking to amd from class. And we all went sledding in the park. :slight_smile:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer had a multi-article reminiscing session about the Blizzard of '78 this past Sunday.

I don’t remember any of it, since we lived in Iran at the time :smiley:

I lived in Lexington Ky at the time and I recall school being out for two weeks both before and after that blizzard. We got a couple feet of snow and the wind was strong enough to push the snowflakes through the cracks in the window frames. The woman across the street looked out her front door and shouted “Glory Hallelujah!” when she saw all the snow.

We mostly sat around watching TV, reading, or arguing. My mother would get us out of her hair by telling us we didn’t have anything for dinner, then giving us $20 and a grocery list and sending us up to the supermarket. We’d haul the groceries on our sled.

Eventually the schools reopened, whereupon we all caught the flu and had to stay home another week. To make up for the snow days the schools remained in session till the middle of June and most of our spring break was cancelled.