It was the Great Blizzard of 1978!
It was far and away the worst winter storm to hit Indiana in my memory -- and maybe ever. It startedon a cold Wednesday evening with heavy wet snow and blowing winds. I remember the ride home from law school at about 7:30 p.m. Already the snow was piling up on the streets. But it was just a prelude of things to come.
The next morning the entire state awoke to a raging fury of white and wind. Snow fell in waves, and was swirled by gale-force winds. Those few souls who ventured out in their cars may have gotten a hundred yards before they were snow bound. Most who tried didn't make it that far.
All Thursday and into Friday morning, the storm roared. I remember standing with my nosed pressed to my second floor apartment window in a combination of horror and awe. It was more entertaining than watching television.
No one went anyplace. Across Indiana a state of emergency was declared. Nothing but National Guard half-tracks and snowmobiles moved.
That included television and radio crews. The broadcasters that were on duty when the storm hit, stayed on duty until at least Saturday afternoon. For those in Indianapolis, we remember weathermen Stan Wood and Bob "Swoop" McClain bravely going on, hour after hour.Anchormen Mike Ahern and Howard Caldwell continued to report every aspect of the story. And on the radio, popular early-morning show host Gary Todd was engaged in near non-stop broadcasting.
And who could ever forget Mayor William Hudnut appearing seemingly everyplace in his Indianapolis Racers sock hat. (The Racers were the Indianapolis professional hockey team at the time). Hizzoner was with the snowplows, traipsing through snow drifts, sitting in his office, holding news conferences, and being interviewed on every television station. And even if he was standing in a sweltering room full of reporters and television lights, he still wore that Racers hat.
By Saturday, the weather had cleared, and we started to dig out. Those who lived through it remember that first you had to dig to FIND your car, and only thencould you could dig to get it out. Even by the time Hoosiers started back to work the following Monday, it still was difficult going. And the mountains of snow piled to the side of the streets were something Hoosiers had never seen -- before or since.
If you doubt the severity of the Great Blizzard of 1978, or if you just want to reminisce, there is a great site with many links to recollections and photos of the Great Blizzard of 1979. Just CLICK HERE.
But a little note: there were TWO Great Blizzards of 1978. A week after the midwest blizzard, and enormous noreaster created a blizzard of similar magnitude for New England and the North Atlantic states.
Oh, and if your birthday happens to be in late October, 1978 -- your not alone. That was a time before VCRs, and cable television was in its infancy. There was only Johnny Carson to keep couples distracted during those cold snow-bound nights. So yes, there really was a huge spike in the birth rate throughout the Hoosier state in the fall of 1978. Seems not everyone was spending all their time watching television and listening to the radio.