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As Northeast Battles Snowstorm Hoosiers Recall 1978 Blizzard

A street in Fort Wayne, Ind., during the Great Blizzard of 1978.

Indiana has been largely unaffected by the blizzard now sweeping across the Northeast. Thirty-six years ago, the state wasn’t as lucky.

“The Blizzard of ’78 is the storm by which all other winter storms since then have been measured,” says National Weather Service meterologist Joseph Nield.

The “Great Blizzard of 1978” began Wednesday, Jan. 25, 1978, and continued through Friday, Jan. 27 in Indiana. A second blizzard took place about a week later on the Northeast coast.

Indiana’s blizzard set two records by dumping 20 inches of snow on the ground in Indianapolis and bringing the month’s total to 30.6 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

It was so bad, it even stranded some National Weather Service employees for 74 hours. During the worst of the blizzard, visibility on the roads was 3/16 of a mile because of blowing snow.

The wind was up to 48 miles per hour and temperatures dropped to 0 degrees.

Jan. 25 was also the first time the National Weather Service ever issued a Blizzard Warning for the entire state.

Nield says the snowfall and temperatures of last year’s storm was similar to 1978, but he says it was not nearly as extreme because last year there was not the intense wind that was included in the Blizzard of 1978.

“Transportation was absolutely shut down,” Nield says of the ’78 storm. “Most that were able to get around were getting around on snow mobiles. The National Guard was making the rounds on Humvees to armored personnel carriers.”

With the East Coast storm, Nield says the preparations have been much more proactive, so the effects will likely be less impactful, even though snowfall amounts are expected to be higher — up to 2.5 feet in some areas.

In addition to the pictures above, Fox 59 has a gallery of photos from the blizzard, showing everything from military tanks assisting cars on the roads to children enjoying the unexpected weather

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