Anniversary of Two of Michigan’s baddest blizzards

It’s been 41 years since a powerful blizzard dropped up to 2 feet of snow in Southwest Michigan, establishing itself as one of the more memorable weather events in recent history.
The Great Blizzard of 1978 not only brought heavy snow totals – but also hurricane force winds. The storm brought traffic – both in the air and on land – to a complete standstill.
On this day 41 years ago, snowfall records were set during the infamous Blizzard of 1978 which dumped 18.4” inches on the area. It is a calendar day record for Gerald R. Ford International Airport that still stands. Drifts as high as 5 feet clogged Int. 96 between Grand Rapids and Lowell, stranding more than 60 motorists. Schools stayed closed for days. According to Press archives, by 8:15 a.m. on January 26, Grand Rapids police cruisers were ordered off the roads unless necessary. Ambulances got stuck trying to get patients. At Butterworth Hospital, 140 nurses called to say they couldn’t make it in.
The incredible Blizzard of January 26-27th, 1978 evolved out of a winter that was famous for cold and storms. The Winter of 1977-78 thus far had been one the coldest, since records began, in many areas from the Rockies eastward to the Appalachians. Mammoth blizzards occurred late in January and early February from the Midwest to the East Coast as strong Arctic plunges dove south into the country and met up with the warmer winds from the deep south.
Record 24 hour snowfall totals from the storm included, 16.1 inches at Grand Rapids, 15.4 inches at Houghton Lake and 12.2 at Dayton, OH. Snowfalls for the entire storm (25-27th) included a whopping 30.0 inches at Muskegon (some of which was Lake Michigan enhanced), 19.3 inches at Lansing and 19.2 at Grand Rapids. Snowfalls were less over Southeast Lower Michigan (mainly because of the rain that fell for a period) and included 9.9 inches at Flint and 8.2 inches at Detroit.
I lived in Bay City in 1978 and was working 1st shift The day before we were in Ann Arbor as our youngest child had to go there for medical treatments almost ever month. We left AA around 6:30 PM and back then John McMurry Was a meteorologist for the Detroit radio station WJR he was my got weather guy back at the time (along with weather radio anyone remember that?) anyway John was all hyped up about this storm. The snow was mostly light until we reached Flint where it really pickup in intensity and by the time we reached Saginaw there was heavy snow falling. I went the bed with the intention of going to work the next day. When the alarm went off at 5 AM I could here the wind blowing outside and with I looked out he window the snow and blowing snow was so bad I could not see across the road I said this is not good, I went outside just as a heavy thundersnow storm started with the kind of thunder and lightning we have not seen at anytime in the last 5 or 6 years. The snow in the driveway was up to my hip so I went back in the house to call in to say I was not coming into work well. The line was busy and it stayed busy until past 9 AM Well the good news was work was closed that day and it was closed the next day as well. Even on Monday there were a lot of people still snowed in.
Now while for many the 1978 storm is their biggest mine happened on the same dates 11 years before. In 1967 I was still in High School and in many locations this storm was bigger then the 1978 storm but both were very similar. One big difference was that leading up to the 1967 storm it was warm not cold like it was in 1978. Here are some facts on the 1967 storm.
On Jan. 26-27, 1967, one of the biggest and baldest blizzards struck Michigan. It went down as one of the all-time worst blizzards in Michigan’s history mainly because of the way the weather conditions changed drastically in a short amount of time. In days leading up to the blizzard, some areas featured temperatures in the 50s and 60s.
Snowfall totals
Here’s the snowfall totals measured in some of Michigan’s cities after the 1967 storm:
Kalamazoo … 30 inches
Bay City……….30 inches
Battle Creek … 28.6 inches
Lansing … 24 inches
Saginaw … 23.8 inches
Flint … 22.7 inches
Grand Rapids … 18 inches
Jackson … 16 inches
Muskegon … 11 inches

The 1967 blizzard caught many Michigan residents off guard. In several locations, the temperatures were in the 50s and 60s, and then a couple of days later on Jan. 26 and 27, the blizzard dumped lots of really heavy snow in a relatively short period.
In Lansing, the temperature was 66 degrees on Jan. 24, 1967. Two days later, 24 inches of snow had fell.
In Grand Rapids, the warm temperatures produced records at that time of 62 degrees on Jan. 24, 1967 and 57 degrees on Jan. 25, 1967. Then the snow — a foot and half — fell.
One spot where the warm air kept the blizzard at bay was in Detroit. The Motor City officials had more than 1 inch of rain and 3.5 inches of snow.
In a day when schools seldom closed for snow day we had no school for 7 days. I know there are a lot of people who think of the GHD storm as the big daddy will I can tell you that storm did not even compare to the storms of 1967 and 1978.
Slim

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Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

Sounds like we will get the wetter, heavier snow over here. I’d rather have the light, fluffy stuff. I’m thinking multiple days of school closures this week. I’m going to run to Meijer early this morning. It will be very busy today.

INDY
INDY

Winter storm warning is in effect to 7pm Monday morning 8-12 inches of snow wow ..INDY!

Sandy (Hudsonville)
Sandy (Hudsonville)

Possible 12 to 14″ ???

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Wood saying 4 inches now ..

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)
Sandy (Hudsonville)
Sandy (Hudsonville)

Great post Slim. I will never forget the Jan 1978 blizzard. That was my first winter here. Our neighbor came with his farm tractor & dug us out. I remember my husband getting picked up by someone on a snowmobile and getting a ride to Deweerds supermarket. Do you know know how much snow in 1967 that Detroit area got with that storm? That is where I was living then. I grew-up on that side of the state. We moved here in June of ’77 . I had never experienced winter like they do here till then.

Wild bill
Wild bill

So realistically we will get 3-6 on Monday!!!!! That’s the normal I feel for big ones no matter what the models, indy, and rocky say…. But I’ll let u know come Tuesday!!!!

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

It’s going to come down to who gets dry slotted and who dont .. Looks like an initial heavy band comes through early on Monday and after that looks like dry air will feed into this clipper.. Up north have the best chance at the moment of staying in the snow all day on Monday ..

INDY
INDY

Let us know after the storm hu? I will to then lol! INDY!

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Ch8 running with 7-11 inches for GR on Monday. Winter in MI.

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

Looks like the heaviest snowfalls will remain to the north of here. No complaints here.

BC (Otsego)
BC (Otsego)

We do seem to miss a lot of the big ones, don’t we….. passing north or south of us.

Rocky (Rockford)
Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Still looking like sweet spot northern lower….

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Depends if you believe the euro or the gfs, however I have not seen a trend to the south yet from the gfs. The gfs has been consistent for about the last 24 hrs.

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Watches already being issued for counties just north of lower mi .. Shows you the continued latest thinking the sweet spot will be in northern lower..

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Today’s afternoon EURO model is still 50 to 100 miles farther to the south than the gfs! The exact track will determine where the double digit snow totals happen! GGR is still in the mix. The final RDB model snowfall prediction will be posted tomorrow! Rock n roll will never die!

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Wow, were going to be around 30f on Monday. That will feel balmy compared to Wednesday’s brutal cold.

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

This is one of the most amazing 16 day snow maps for GR that I have ever seen!

https://www.instantweathermaps.com/GFS-php/conussfc.php?run=2019012612&time=PER&var=ASNOWI&hour=384

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Looking like 4-7″ on the way for lower mi from Monday’s storm.. Enough for the kiddos to have no school.

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Northern lower will see the brunt from this storm were up to a foot of new snow could fall.. Watches and Advisories coming soon.

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

The trend of the 5 day gfs is still right on track. There has been very little change the last couple days! Stay tuned!

http://wxcaster.com/gis-gfs-snow-overlays.php?STATIONID=GRR

INDY
INDY

Lk Effects snow bands are flaring now roads will become slippery this afternoon ..Crazzy with the little so called Winter we have had a lot of schools are with in a day or two of using all there snow days up this week coming up will put them over I bet …. I tell my gals you don’t want anymore snow days your going to be going longer in the summer lol…INDY

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

There will be hundreds of school closings the beginning and middle of next week!

Wild bill
Wild bill

THE WEATHER PROS JAN 26, 2019 10:45AM UPDATE Weather Hotline Anytime 24/7 ========== We are tracking more lake snow and snow showers tonight with 2-3″ likely from 6pm tonight to about daybreak tomorrow. ========== MODEL SCORECARD (1am-11pm MONDAY) ———- European (UK) 6-8″ Now 5-7″ ———- GFS FV3 (USA Model) 6-8″ Now 7″ ———- Canadian Model 5-8″ Now 4-6″ ———- ICON (German Model) 4-6″ No Change ———- NAM Short Range (USA) 5-7″ Now 4-6″ ———- OUR CALL 5-7″ No real change from earlier ========== The track changed a little but no real changes to the storm totals and timing as of… Read more »

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Nice post however the RDB is still showing slightly higher snow totals than the gfs, euro, etc.

INDY
INDY

120 hour GFS gives GR 16-18 inches of snow! Crazzy INDY!

Wild bill
Wild bill

Sounds like I’ll be buying skittles and mt dew in bulk…( that’s my plowing snack)

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

That’s including lake effect not all synoptic snow.

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Good read Slim! Having lived through the 1978 storm, I agree the GHD storm pales in comparison. The 2011 GHD storm was the last big storm we’ve had in this area in awhile, but I still made it to work that day and was only 10 minutes late. The 78 storm was just unbelievable. Even today when I look at the pictures we took then, they looked like they were photoshopped because they are so ridiculous. We had a new Chevy Blazer parked outside, and after the storm there was zero of it visible, totally buried in the snow. The… Read more »

ROCKY (Rockford)
ROCKY (Rockford)

The only question that remains concerning the Monday storm is how far North does the heaviest snow hit. The latest EURO still has the heaviest snow in the GGR area, however the latest GFS moves the heaviest snow a couple counties to the North. Again the difference is 6 to 8 inches of snow or the monster 12+ inches of snow! Stay tuned for later updates on this possible Big Daddy!

INDY
INDY

If any movement will be further south my thoughts…We can’t forget the wind ..I already have the BIG daddy hat dusted off…INDY!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

If it doesn’t move north or if moves a little south WATCH OUt!

INDY
INDY

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY 4pm today-12pm Sunday 2-5 inches of snow with heavier amounts from Holland Muskegon to Grand rapids this afternoon the snow keeps pileing up!! Stay tuned INDY!

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

It looks like board games, card games, reading, and movies for the foreseeable future. It’s just too cold to be outside

BC (Otsego)
BC (Otsego)

Yes, and I miss walking my dogs!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Dress for the weather and get outside for a walk!

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

There are not enough layers…

BC (Otsego)
BC (Otsego)

I just might today! My bigger concern is everything is ice underneath the snow and I’m too tall and old to fall gracefully, lol.

MichaelV

Hopefully we will get the GRERL webcams back on line now that the government has opened once again.

MichaelV

Stopped by Mezzos the other day and spoke with Sue the owner. They have a conference room in back which would comfortably hold the members of this blog if anyone is interested in getting together – they also have WiFi. Oh – and they have a great new house blend of coffee which is great. You can check out her website by clicking on the Mezzo logo.

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

Someday, I would really like to do that. Unfortunately, we are busy 7 days a week with school, hockey, and dance. I swear my folks weren’t this busy when we were kids. A lot has changed since the 70s. My siblings and I would have a highball waiting for our folks when they got home from work. 😁

BC (Otsego)
BC (Otsego)

Growing up, my mom would have a Manhattan in the late evening before bed. She too worked full time, so we were latchkey kids.

MichaelV

We are looking at potentially dangerous conditions over the next five days with wind chill values well below zero and snow piling up along the lakeshore counties through Sunday night then the storm for Sunday night into Tuesday – then bone chilling cold for mid week. A winter weather advisory is in place for Mason-Lake-Oceana-Newaygo-Muskegon-Ottawa-Kent-Allegan and Van Buren counties beginning at 4pm today through noon on Sunday which may be replaced by a storm warning after this expires. Plan accordingly and stay warm – don’t forget to keep the pets inside and the birds and squirrels fed outside.

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Can you say BINGO? Travel on Monday could be challenging!

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Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Great day to post about the blizzards, because we will be placed in a winter storm warning for Monday with near blizzard conditions! The preliminary RDB model snowfall estimate of 8 to 11 inches still looks great! Incredible!

Jack Edwards
Jack Edwards

Good Stuff…Slim. BUT what is the “baldest” blizzards ? No Hair blizzards? LOL.
Happy Saturday Morning…..GANG!

MichaelV

Many of us who lived through these events lost our hair by the time we got into our 20s. I was 12 during the 67 storm and I struggled to shovel sidewalks the snow was so deep. The 1978 storm found me trapped with my future wife at her folks house in the country. We had a horse barn a half mile down the road and we had to go out and climb the snow dunes twice a day until a road grader plowed us out.

Jack Edwards
Jack Edwards

So That explains that Your Bald Spot..MV.
LMBO