Remembering Michigan’s Great Blizzard of 1978 45 Years Later
Do you remember what you were doing during the Great Blizzard of 1978 in Michigan?
The Kalamazoo Public Library shared a post last week commemorating the 45th anniversary of this blizzard:
The blizzard wasn't limited to the Kalamazoo area. According to kpl.gov, the storm spread across the Great Lakes region and brought about two feet of snow to the area which, on its own, isn't a ton of snow. But, with the heavy winds, roads were impassable forcing stranded motorists to take shelter at the Wings Event Center. Some drifts were even 17 feet high.
Temperatures were in the teens with the wind chill bringing the temps down to negative 60. Winds reached 60 mph. In Michigan alone, 20 people lost their lives in this storm. It was later referred to as one of the worst blizzards in U.S. history.
The Kalamazoo Public Library included a few pictures from the time showing people traveling down the road using skis, snowmobiles, and more. I definitely encourage you to check them out here.
I wasn't around Kalamazoo in 1978. Heck, I wasn't even on planet Earth at that point. Even so, I found reading about the experiences of those who experienced the storm fascinating. And, a good reminder that in the midst of chaos, life continues to go on as usual.
KPL's post was shared in the Facebook group Michigan History, too. There, a few locals shared where they were during the Great Blizzard of 1978:
I was a senior at WMU in 1978 and lived in a second floor apartment. The snow covered our cars. A stranger knocked on our door, ran through our apartment and jumped off our balcony! We had a blast for several weeks. - Patricia F.
I remember, snowmobiles were allowed on roads in town and we were snowed in for days..national guard plowed people out. Blizzards these days are babies compared to that one!!! - Robin M.
I was in high school and we had a week off of school. Haven't had a storm that bad since then. - Steve P.
Our daughter was born that morning. - Gretchen G.
I had just gotten married on January 21st. - Dawn L.
My brothers birthday! Mother Nature gave him the gift of playing hockey with his friends for a week (or two) instead of going to school. - Katie R.
Being from Florida, I cannot even fathom snow piles so high that a student could safely jump off a 2nd-floor balcony without any sustained injuries. And, hopefully, we won't see that kind of storm anytime in the near future.
I happened to find some footage from the blizzard of 1978 and, yeah...after seeing this footage I'm perfectly fine with having "light" winters:
Even with the lighter-than-usual snow we've experienced this year (2022/2023), Michiganders definitely feel a certain way about the season. We recently asked locals to describe Michigan winters in 5 words or less and, boy-oh-boy, did they deliver: