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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blizzard news from the 1978 Evening World

Posted Friday, December 28, 2012, at 6:41 PM

This week's blizzard reminded folks of blizzards past, especially the Great Blizzard of '78. So Jon the press man pulled some old editions of the Evening World newspaper out of the archives for me to look through.

Here's a few tidbits.....

Tuesday, January 24, 1978: Freezing rain turned highways and streets into skating rinks shortly after 8 a.m. and the Greene County Sheriff's Department got nearly 100 calls about accidents within one hour. Bloomfield Town Marshal Tom Franklin was also kept busy responding to mishaps. The Sullivan County Sheriff's Department closed State Road 54 west of Dugger for awhile because there were so many vehicles off the road.

Wednesday, January 25, 1978: The National Weather Service was predicting more snow. Early that morning, rain on already snow-packed rural roads caused accidents and forced a last-minute cancellation of school. A Bloomfield school bus slid off a road near Doans at 7:30 a.m. The bus was going up a steep hill when it started sliding backward even though it was still in forward gear. It slid off the side of the road and down an embankment. There were only three or four students on the bus and one small boy got a bump on the head. Then an REMC truck slid off County Road 100W north of Mount Nebo Church. And an 18-year-old driver hit a cow that had wandered out onto County Road 500N west of Switz City.

Friday, January 27, 1978: Governor Bowen announced President Carter had declared a state of emergency in Indiana due to the snow. National Guardsmen had been called out to help and 2,500 stranded people were being cared for in armories around the state. On Friday morning, the winds had started to abate and road clearing had begun. The paper said Bloomfield was showing a few signs of life again but businesses and schools were still closed. Grocery stores were out of bread because delivery trucks could not make it through. There was no mail service on Thursday or Friday since no postal department trucks had been moving. Some mail service was expected to resume on Saturday but not all because rural mail carriers could not reach many rural areas. An officer of Bloomfield State Bank said plans were to reopen on Saturday, if enough employees were able to get to the bank.

Monday, January 30, 1978: The prediction was that Greene County may return to normal within a few days, if there was no more snow. All county schools were still closed on the 30th but were hoping to open again soon. Eastern School said school would be closed for the entire week -- their plumbing was frozen and repairs were needed. One person called the paper and asked them to thank W. L. Thomas Company for digging out Owensburg and making the situation more bearable for that community. Also on Monday, the paper reported that the grocery stores now had bread.

According to historical information of the National Weather Service online, the blizzard in '78 officially began on January 25 when there was already five inches of snow on the ground. A heavy snow warning had been issued at 4:30 a.m. then it was upgraded to a blizzard warning later in the afternoon. Only an inch of snow fell before 7 p.m. but by 10 p.m. that evening, heavy snow was falling and arctic air blasted in creating wind gusts above 35 mph. The heavy snow and wind continued for 24 hours straight. On day two, winds were gusting to 55 mph and the temperature dropped to zero -- wind chills remained 40 to 50 below zero almost all day. On Friday when the snow emergency was declared, Hoosiers were dealing with snow drifts of 10 to 20 feet and travel was impossible. That afternoon, the Indiana State Police declared that all Indiana roads were closed.

The Blizzard of '78 was one for the history books. If you lived through it, then you've got a story to tell. If you were not born yet, then you've probably heard a tale or two from the "old folks." Yes, we enjoy telling our stories about the big blizzard, but few of us want to go through another one.

Anna Rochelle is a staff writer at the Greene County Daily World and can be reached by sending an email to indianarose@fastmail.us or by calling the office at 812-847-4487.



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