It has been 45 years since the worst blizzard in Hoosier state history, the blizzard of 1978. Over a foot of snow dropped in some areas with others picking up as much as three feet of snow! On January 25, 1978, the National Weather Service issued its first-ever statewide blizzard warning along with a heavy snow warning. In 45 years, that has not happened again.
Indiana was the first to declare a blizzard warning for the state. Illinois and Ohio soon followed.
The blizzard of 1978 shut down central Indiana and every corner of the Hoosier State. The storm brought an estimated 15.5 inches of snow to the city, according to NWS. Overall, the storm brought the most snow Indianapolis had seen over a three-day span since 1910. This would be the third-highest three-day total and that record still holds. That year, between February 16 and 18, a total of 16.1 inches of snow dropped on central Indiana. With the snow that was already on the ground, the total snow depth was just under 20 inches.
Photos courtesy of our partners at The IndyStar.
During the worst part of the storm, some areas in the state saw snowfall at a rate of one to two inches an hour. Wind speeds consistently were at 35 miles an hour, with gusts approaching 55 miles an hour.
The governor declared a snow emergency for the entire state on the morning of the 26th. During the afternoon of the 26th, the Indiana State Police considered all Indiana roads closed. Seventy people perished during the storm.
The storm hit Wednesday and conditions didn’t improve until the weekend. By Monday, roads had opened and people were able to start returning to work.
That January, 30 inches of snow fell on the city, setting another record for the area. This storm was a merger of two weather systems, resulting in a strong area of low pressure that reached its lowest pressure over Cleveland, Ohio.
According to the National Weather Service, other records were set that winter.
The blizzard was part of a 61-day stretch with at least one inch of snow cover. Then, February had the coldest temperature for a month on record.