On January 26, 1978, one of the greatest blizzards in North American history struck a wide area from the great Lakes and Mid-west all the way toward the east coast of the United States and northward into parts of Canada. The bitter cold arctic air had been holding across the large region for more than a week and had been reinforced by successive waves of air from the Yukon and Siberia. Then a storm developed on the Gulf coast and came sweeping northward right into the cold air. Significant support gathered in the high levels of the atmosphere for the storm and resulted in a system that some said rivaled a hurricane in strength. Pittsburgh reached its lowest barometric pressure ever at 28.49” – just like that in a hurricane. The Paralyzing blizzard that ensued killed more than 100. Winds gusted to 100 mph producing 25’ drifts. Many roofs collapsed from heavy snow. 28.14” was the pressure reading at Cleveland, the lowest recorded at an inland US station. 120,000 cars and trucks were abandoned in Michigan. In Canada the ravaging winter storm caused $41 million in damage and contributed to 9 deaths. Hurricane force winds blew out windows in Toronto’s skyscrapers, where the air pressure plunged to 27.80”; also, an all-time low reading.
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