Video Vault: The Blizzard of 1978

Vintage WEWS: January 26, 1978
Posted at 6:04 AM, Jan 25, 2011

What a storm the Great Blizzard of 1978 was.

The storm hit in the early hours of Jan. 26, 1978. It set an all-time Cleveland record low barometer reading of 28.28 inches and remains among the lowest non-tropical barometer readings in the country.

The Midwest was pummeled by the ferocious storm, but Ohio was especially hard hit with 51 deaths reported statewide. Snow driven by strong winds created drifts covering cars and houses. Nearly everything came to a standstill. The Ohio Turnpike was closed for the first time in its history. The National Guard was deployed in Ohio to help with rescuing people.

Former WEWS videographer Ron Strah was working that day. He told me of his drive in from the western suburbs on I-90. He suddenly found himself at the traffic signal at McKinley Avenue, not realizing he had driven up the exit ramp and wasn’t on the freeway anymore. The visibility was that poor.

Video in our player includes a group of stranded motorists in I-71 at the Ridge Road underpass, later a live shot from reporter Bob Howick on Public Square. Bob can hardly stand and yet to the left side of the frame is a pedestrian seemingly unfazed by it all. There are shots of others barely ably to maneuver through the Square and then shots of the Ohio Turnpike closed.