West Virginia November 15, 2017
A Massive Blizzard Blanketed West Virginia In Snow In 1978 And It Will Never Be Forgotten
West Virginia is no stranger to harsh winters and like it or not, snowy days are upon us. A
relatively mild winter has been predicted for West Virginia this year, actually. However, everybody knows there’s really no predicting the weather in West Virginia! In fact, West Virginia was once victim to one of the harshest blizzards in recent history. You probably never forgot this epic snow storm if you were in West Virginia when it occurred almost 40 years ago exactly.
On January 20, 1978, the biggest snow storm to ever hit West Virginia shut down the state for days. This incredible storm is still referred to as "The Great Blizzard of '78."
The blizzard was the result of a low pressure storm system that developed near the Florida panhandle on Thursday, January 20th. Snow started to spread to the north and eventually reach West Virginia during the early morning hours of January 20th.
The National Weather Service was caught completely by surprise. They believed the snow in West Virginia would soon mix with sleet and rain. However, the temperature never exceeded freezing temperatures and snow continued to accumulate heavily in the western and northern parts of the state.
The blizzard was considered to be a rare snow storm, since it was recorded that more snow fell at Charleston than in the high mountains. By the afternoon on January 20th, the average total snow depth on Charleston and the Kanawha Valley was a whopping 24 inches. Huntington was recorded getting 20 inches of snow and Wheeling got 18 inches.
The incredible amount of snow that hit the state was devastating. Many people were victim to collapsed roofs and awnings. Nobody could drive. Buses were stranded. On that Friday, it was as if the entire state stood still. Many roads, schools, and businesses closed down for days.
It was the storm's aftermath that proved to be most difficult for West Virginia residents. Just days later on January 26th, a stronger storm hit Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Luckily, West Virginia was hit with rain instead of snow. However, this caused the snow to melt so rapidly that several areas became instantly flooded, especially along the Little Kanawha river. After the storm ended, the flood waters remained and the temperatures dropped into single digits.
However, a lot of the snow remained and didn't melt until early March. Altogether, snow covered the ground for an average of 60 days and this was considered the longest period of continuous snow cover to exist in West Virginia!
Do you have memories of “The Great Blizzard of ’78”? Share your experiences with us in the comments! Also, did you know about
The Terrifying, Deadly Storm Which Struck West Virginia In 1993?