The snow we had this past week brings back memories of the great blizzard of January 26th, 1978. This still stands yet today as the greatest storm in the State of Ohio.
It all began on Wednesday Jan. 25th when rain moved in early in the evening. It rained the rest of the night then after midnight the wind began to pick up. By 4:30 am the 26th, the wind was blowing full tilt and the rain had changed to snow as the temperature dropped 30 some degrees. The barometric pressure recorded a record low of 28.28. Winds gusted to 70 miles per hour at times and continued to blow all day long and into the next day.
About the time the rain had changed to snow the home of Alvin Poole on Maple Street caught on fire from a gas leak. Mrs. Lemons and her daughter were at home at the time but got out unharmed. With such strong winds there was nothing the firemen could do so the home was entirely consumed by the flames. I can still remember seeing the red sky from the fire in the middle of the blowing snow.
The blizzard conditions continued all day Thursday and there was nothing the Highway Department could do so no attempts were made to try and open up the highways as long as the winds continued. I remember walking to work to the post office that morning and a tree had blown down across the sidewalk at the neighbors and I never saw it until I was on top of it. The wind was blowing so hard that I walked backwards most of the way to the post office as it was almost impossible to breath in the strong wind and blowing snow.
The two main routes from New London, Ohio 60 and 162, were not opened until Saturday afternoon. Snow in places was 20 feet deep and heavy equipment from the National Guard was needed to open these huge drifts. Because of the high winds and driftng it was impossible to measure accurately the amount of snow that had fallen but it was figured to be around eight inches. By the way, there was no mail delivered that day as it was not fit for man nor beast and no mail was received from Mansfield anyhow.
One of the largest stories to come from the storm was of the Cleveland truck driver who had his truck buried in a 20 foot drift on State Route 13 just north of Mansfield. It was four days after the storm before he was discovered. He had kept warm wth blankets and drank pop until he was rescued. No one in New London was seriously hurt during the storm though 51 people died in the State of Ohio because of it. I think Huron County had one death caused by the storm.
The lineman from Firelands Electric had to ride in snow mobiles to downed power lines impossible to get at any other way because of the storm. They went as far south as Mifflin and beyond to repair downed lines. New London was fortunate as our power was only out just a few hours, but folks north of us were without power for four days as were many others in Ashland and Richland Counties. We all hope that nothing like that ever happens again in our life time.
V.K. Neel, From New London Record articles and Dick Goddard's book.