Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Well, let's hope not. But it is just February in Northeast Ohio, so anything can happen. Like the 60 degree temperatures forecast for this weekend.

But a more typical weather event would be a blizzard. Like last year...

And like almost 40 years ago when "The Big One" hit. Anyone alive at that time remembers where they were, what it was like and how it affected them.

Me? I was in base housing at Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana. Across the street from our house was a corn field. So when the wind started blowing, we got HUGE snow drifts between the houses.  The snow reached up to the electric lines and airmen traversing the drifts had to duck under the lines to walk down the street. The Air Force emergency-delivered milk and diapers to homes with small children. But it was an Air Force Base and the base mission came first. That meant as soon as the snow stopped, they had bulldozers and dump trucks hauling the snow away. The drifts were too big for the plows to handle and there wasn't any place for them to "push" the snow away to.

More about "The Big One" later...

Medina, of course, has its share of blizzards. A search for the word "blizzard" in the online version of The History of Medina County and Ohio turned up a family by the name of BLIZZARD. A search using the term "snow storm" turned up a few more relevant hits. Mostly about how some brave pioneer got stranded in the woods during the storm and survived by taking shelter in a hollow log.

With a search on the digitized version of The Medina Gazette  and  The Medina Sentinel  available on the Newspaper Archive database from the Akron Summit County Public Library and the Medina Library's own clippings files, I was able to compile this list of blizzards for Medina County:
  • Dec 31, 1863   (snow continued for 9 days, bitter cold, gale force winds) 
  • April 24, 1875                       
  • March 31- April 3, 1881 
  • Feb 1887
  • April 1901
  • Feb 1910
  • Nov 1913
  • March 1947
  • Nov 1950
  • Jan-Feb 1968
  • Feb 1977
  • Jan 1978 (The BIG ONE!)
  • Feb 1984
  • Feb 1987
  • April 1987
  • Nov 1987
  • Dec 2004
  • Feb 2006
  • Feb 2007
Strangely, The Medina Gazette newspaper didn't report of the big snows and blizzards of the 1800's. I could only find subtle news of the 1881 storm:

Someone circled the news of the storm in this April 1, 1881 edition
of the Medina Gazette

A week later, there still was no news in the Gazette. But there were two
oblique references to the recent weather in the "Local" column

The storm in 1901 was the first storm coverage in the local papers. Notice how the left edge of paper is distorted in the images below? The newspaper was microfilmed from bound copies of the paper. The distortion is where the paper is bound. 15 inches of snow fell but it drifted "higher than a horse's back". Illustrations and photos were rare in the newspapers at this time.

The Medina Gazette 25 April 1901 p. 1
In 1913, Medina had another big blizzard. Again the paper was microfilmed from bound copies of the newspaper and is quite distorted. Here is part of the 14 November Medina Gazette article:

In 1947, this amusing cartoon appeared in the March 25th edition:

Cartoon depicting Spring's arrival.

Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor!

It started snowing that very morning and three days later this was the front page picture:

The storm closed all the major highways around Medina. All the local schools were closed until the following Monday.

And in November of 1950, Medina experienced record breaking snow when 16 inches fell:

The Medina Gazette  28 November 1950, page 1.

Stranded motorists and truckers used the Medina Square as a parking lot until they could be dug out.

In a preview of what was to come in the following year, February of 1977 had some serious snow also:

President Carter declared Ohio a disaster area. 


On January  20 & 21, 1978, all of the mid-west was hit with heavy snow. Strong winds whipped the snow into incredible drifts, closing roads and stranding people in their homes.

This 20 January 1978 article from the Medina Gazette was just the beginning of the story.

Countians struggled to dig their cars out. 

A week later, the blizzard was still making the front page news;

Utility workers had been laboring around the clock to get electric and telephone service restored.

The Ohio State Government was shut down

This scene from Effingham Illinois shows how truck transportation was stalled.

Because the tanker trucks couldn't get to the dairies, milk couldn't be picked up and had to be dumped.

It wasn't just business and government affected by the storm. Lives were lost.

In 1984, the area was again hit with heavy snows:

The Medina Gazette February 1984

It was bad enough that medical personnel needed to be "shuttled" to work.

Ohio was declared an "emergency" by then governor Dick Celeste.

Alternative modes of transportation were employed. Lucky the resident who had a snowmobile!

Add caption

Of course, a blizzard isn't bad news for everyone, as this 1987 picture from The Medina Gazette  illustrates:


Share your memories of past blizzards in the comment section below:

1 comment:

Pat Morgan said...

In the wake of the November 1950 blizzard my father and other men in our Akron neighborhood gathered as many sleds as they could find and they trudged to the nearest store to stock up on necessities. I was too little to remember this storm but my folks never forgot!

In 1978 we lived in Berea. My husband worked on two-way radios for the Cuyahoga County Engineer so when the storm hit he was on call to keep the radios running. It was a long couple of days! I will never forget the sound of the wind howling and watching the snow swirling around before it landed in the driveway.I lost count of how many times the driveway needed to be shoveled but it was a lot!