Local forecasts are calling for the largest winter storm system to hit the Miami Valley in several years to descend on Springfield this weekend, leading many locals to be reminded of another major storm system that paralyzed not just the city, but the entire Midwest almost 40 years ago.
The Great Blizzard, also known as the White Hurricane, moved over the greater Springfield area between Jan. 25 and Jan. 26, 1978. The storm — the result of a merger of the subtropical jet stream and the polar jet stream — created a low-pressure system that generated a “storm of unprecedented magnitude.” The National Weather Service declared the storm a severe blizzard — the highest category of winter storm measured by the organization.
»PHOTO GALLERY: Great Blizzard of 1978 in Springfield and Clark County
Winds of up to 100 miles per hour tore through the Buckeye State and several others, including Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, plunging wind chill factors down as far as -60 degrees Fahrenheit as the system dropped as much as 40 inches of snow in some areas. In total, 70 people died as a result of the storm with 51 victims in Ohio alone. To date, it is the worst winter storm to ever hit the state.
Some residents of the Springfield area recalled the storm on the Springfield News-Sun Facebook page.
“I had two babies, a 3-month-old and a 15-month-old,” Deborah Overturf wrote. “Luckily, my sister and her boyfriend at the time walked with a sled to bring diapers, milk and beer. Saved us big time. They must have walked at least five miles.”
Candi Ann Banner wrote she remembers the storm and doesn’t want to see it again.
Bobbi Jo Cook said she was born during the blizzard.
“My poor mama,” she said.
Jackie Kawailima said she doesn’t remember it — for a good reason.
“Nope, I was in Hawaii,” Kawailima said.
WHIO Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said there’s some cause for concern about the upcoming storm due to the chance for roads and walkways to become icy before the snow hits the region late Friday and into Saturday, but the impact won’t be near the record totals the region received from the Great Blizzard. Drivers are still warned to exercise extreme caution during their commutes on Friday and Saturday, as roads are likely to be treacherous.