Surface weather analysis of the 1978 blizzard, January 26, 1978 (Image from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Central Library. Obtained from Wikimedia Commons).
The winter of 2013-2014 is turning out to be quite an adventure here in Michigan, with a December ice storm, January snow storms, and frigid temperatures over the last few weeks. Many conversations about this winter’s weather eventually turned into discussions of two other large snowstorms in recent memory—one in 1967 and one in 1978.
The 1967 blizzard fell on January 26 and 27, and dumped twenty-four inches of snow on Lansing. Lansing State Journal articles from the days after the storm tell stories of stranded bus passengers, a mother who picked her children up on horseback, and neighbors who built a human-sized Snoopy snow sculpture. Rachel Clark, an education specialist at the Michigan Historical Center, remembers growing up and hearing stories about the time her father got a ride to work from the National Guard, because he had to abandon his car during the storm. He was a reporter for the WJIM television station in 1967, and the station needed him to read the news and help keep Lansing residents informed about the storm.
A personal photo from the 1978 blizzard in Michigan. Contributed by Laurie Perkins, Michigan Historical Museum.
On January 26-27, 1978, snowstorms with fifty-to-seventy-mile per hour winds pummeled much of Michigan. Snowfall totals ranged from eighteen inches in Lansing to an incredible fifty-one inches in Traverse City. More than 100,000 cars were abandoned on roads and highways, and travel was impossible for days. Governor William G. Milliken declared a state of emergency on January 26 (See the image below.) and activated the National Guard to assist with the cleanup. The governor also requested financial assistance from the federal government and estimated damage totals to be more than $25 million, not including lost productivity from workers who were unable to get to their jobs.
Governor Milliken proclaims a “state of disaster” within Michigan, 1978 (Keep clicking on the image to view a larger version.). Original document from Michigan Department of State, Office of the Great Seal, Archives of Michigan Record Group 98-76, box 121.
Visitors to the Michigan Historical Museum’s special exhibit, “Lake Effects: Exploring Michigan Weather” can learn about winters past and share stories of their winter memories. If you have a favorite winter photograph, you can share it on the Michigan Historical Center’s Flickr page by e-mailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the photo title in the subject line. Check out other people’s photos, including several from the recent December ice storm, at the Seeking Michigan Flickr Page.
Michigan State Police, Archives of Michigan Record Group 85-90, box 5, folder 3. Ibid.