West Virginia January 20, 2018
In 1978, West Virginia Plunged Into An Arctic Freeze That Makes This Year’s Winter Look Downright Mild
Every winter can seem like the worst one to some folks. So far, West Virginia has seen some very cold temperatures and several inches of snow, but this was nothing compared to the Great Blizzard of 1978.
In January of 1978, a storm came from out of nowhere.
What seemed like a system that would pass us by completely (according to local meteorologists) turned out to be the worst blizzard to ever hit the east coast.
The sudden change ushered by the storm seemed practically immediate.
In just a few hours, temperatures dropped from the 30s to single digits as an arctic air mass moved in, dumping snow on the entire east coast, turning the world white. It must have felt like a second ice age to some.
The event crippled the region for days.
By the next day, our state capital was buried under two feet of snow. The heavy snow and howling winds rendered motorists snowblind, providing close to zero visibility. The heavy winds collapsed thousands of trees, which tore through power lines across West Virginia and neighboring regions. Highways, turnpikes, and interstates shut down, lines of communication were lost, and the power went out — many portions of the east coast fell dark.
The region came to a standstill for days.
The U.S. military mounted helicopter rescues and distributed food and supplies in many regions. Snowmobiles and vehicles with four-wheel drive were employed to transport medical personnel and supplies to various regions.
The end result was 70 deaths and millions in damages. It wasn't until the following week that things went back to normal for most of the region.
Do you remember the ’78 blizzard? Feel free to comment below and share your memories of the event with us.
To learn more about West Virginia, check out
these 5 historic winter storms.