INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana residents are reflecting on the 40th anniversary of a blizzard that paralyzed much of the state for days by dumping a foot or more of snow that howling winds whipped into road-blocking drifts.
Indianapolis forecasters issued their first blizzard warning for the entire state on Jan. 25, 1978. There were 20-foot snow drifts, 40 mph winds and temperatures that plummeted from 34 degrees to zero overnight.
The death toll from the storm rose to over 70 people across the region. It included 5 in Kentucky, 11 in Indiana and 51 in Ohio.
Pendleton resident Kenneth Saunders said he was riding on a snowmobile to nearby Fortville through wind-driven snows to get groceries to sustain his family during the storm.
“Fortville was basically a ghost town,” he said.
Saunders said people who complain about Indiana winters and didn’t live through the rare blizzard have no idea how bad it can get.
“When we have a bad winter, it is kind of comical to hear people, ‘Oh my gosh, how terrible,'” he said. “Nothing quite compares to that winter of ’78.”
The National Weather Service advises that residents keep prepared kits for harsh storms in their homes and cars. The Weather Service also advises residents to pay attention to forecasts and warnings.