By The Associated Press
Thirty years after a howling blizzard brought life to a standstill, Indiana residents are remembering the storm’s fury and how some cheated death while marooned in snowbound cars.
The blizzard began on Jan. 25, 1978, and continued for two more days, bringing the lowest non-hurricane-related barometric pressure ever measured in the United States — 28.28 inches — said Dave Tucek, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Indianapolis.
Eleven people died in Indiana from traffic accidents and the deadly cold that accompanied the heavy snowfall. High winds quickly whipped the snow into drifts the towered 10 to 20 feet high, leaving roads impassable and stranding motorists.
“In the case of the 1978 event, two fronts, two pressure centers, converged and the timing was just right,” said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist.
During the blizzard crisis, Gov. Otis Bowen declared a snow emergency and more than 1,000 Indiana National Guard personnel were mobilized to help stranded travelers, snowbound workers and families whose homes had lost heat and electrical power during the crisis.
In Indianapolis, some people used the storm’s cover to loot stores.
But people also pulled together. At hotels, managers served food, and guests made their own beds. Car dealerships lent four-wheel drive vehicles to emergency workers.
A police office told The Indianapolis Star that the roughly 300 people stranded at Indianapolis International Airport were “one big happy family.”
In Bloomington, Indiana University officials closed the Bloomington campus for the first time ever.
Up to 40 inches of snow fell in some areas of northern Indiana, and South Bend’s 36 inches was the highest total reported for a Hoosier city.
Indianapolis got a single-day record of 15.5 inches on Jan. 26th which, combined with snow already on the ground before the storm arrived, made for a 20-inch snow cover.
Dean Kruse, the owner of car auction company Kruse International in Auburn, recalls being stuck in a rental car with three friends, all of them worried that they might freeze to death.
By The Associated Press
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