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Chicago WX

A Look Back: The Winter Of 1977-78

28 posts in this topic

Up next in my series of "A Look Back" winters, the great 1977-78. For most in the Midwest/Lakes/OV, this is one of the benchmark winters of the modern era. Of course the highlight storm of this winter was the Cleveland Super Bomb in late January 1978.

Snowfall started up in mid to late November for many and ended pretty much in March. The southern areas of the region went out with the biggest bang in March, totaling double digit snowfall totals. It was a spread the wealth kind of winter, through areas along and west of the Mississippi River did not fare as well with snowfall as their neighbors to the east.

CPC classifies this winter as a weak El Nino (DJF tri-monthly number of +0.7C), but it did fade fairly quickly.

First the monthly and winter temperature departure maps...as well as the 500H maps. The next post will deal with the statistics.

[attachment=49218:DEC 1977 TEMPS.png]

[attachment=49219:JANUARY 1978 TEMPS.png]

[attachment=49220:FEBRUARY 1978 TEMPS.png]

[attachment=49221:DJF 1977-78 TEMPS.png]




[b]November 15-30, 1977 500H mean: Winter arrives.[/b]

[attachment=49223:NOVEMBER 15-30 1977 500H.gif]

[b]December 1-31, 1977 500H mean: Cold and some warmth, but snowy.[/b]

[attachment=49224:DEC 1977 500H.gif]

[b]January 1-31, 1978 500H mean: Cold, snow, Super Bomb.[/b]

[attachment=49225:JANUARY 1978 500H.gif]

[b]February 1-28, 1978 500H mean: Cold continues, not as snowy.[/b]

[attachment=49226:FEBRUARY 1978 500H.gif]

[b]March 1-15, 1978 500H mean: Winters victory lap, mainly for the southern areas.[/b]

[attachment=49227:MARCH 1-15 1978 500H.gif]

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The temperature and snowfall stats for the winter of 1977-78. One clarification on the sites...I used the Utah Climate Center website for this data. That brings a few issues: 1) Some of the official sites are not listed/available (i.e. MDW is the COOP, Cleveland's Hopkins AP is not there so I used the WFO, etc etc). I did use the downtown site for Toronto again, 2) There may be some data that is official that may not be exact, but it's close or exact for most, and 3) I did the best I could. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]

1977-78 monthly and winter mean temperatures

[attachment=49228:1977-78 WINTER TEMPS.png]

1977-78 winter misc temperature statistics (32< is days with max temps of 32 or lower, 0< is days with min temps of 0 or lower)

[attachment=49229:1977-78 WINTER TEMPS MISC.png]

1977-78 season snowfall (* for YOW indicates May snowfall is in the total, but not indicated because there's no May column).

[attachment=49348:1977-78 WINTER SNOWFALL 2.png]

1977-78 winter misc snowfall statistics (T> is days with a trace or more snowfall, 1"> is days with 1.0" or more snowfall, and SCD is days with 1" or more snow cover or anything greater than a trace).

[attachment=49231:1977-78 WINTER SNOW MISC.png]

1977-78 state and U.S. mean temperature monthly and winter rankings (relative to coldest). Period of record for the rankings is 1895 to 2011.

[attachment=49232:1977-78 STATE TEMPS:RANKS A.png]

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[quote name='snowstormcanuck' timestamp='1323736783' post='1189154']
Damn Tim, you're hardcore. I can't even imagine how long it took you to compile that data. Fantastic work.
[/quote]

Thanks Mike. Didn't take me too long really...I'm efficient enough. It helps that I'm bored with this weather. Hopefully this will help pass the time while we wait for winter to arrive.

That being said, my next case will be the winter of 1981-82. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]

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[quote name='Chicago WX' timestamp='1323736994' post='1189165']
Thanks Mike. Didn't take me too long really...I'm efficient enough. It helps that I'm bored with this weather. Hopefully this will help pass the time while we wait for winter to arrive.

That being said, my next case will be the winter of 1981-82. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]
[/quote]

Can't wait. A half decent winter in what was a decade of real turds.

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[quote name='Chicago WX' timestamp='1323736994' post='1189165']
Thanks Mike. Didn't take me too long really...I'm efficient enough. It helps that I'm bored with this weather. Hopefully this will help pass the time while we wait for winter to arrive.

That being said, my next case will be the winter of 1981-82. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]
[/quote]

Could you do the winter of 1993-94? By far one of my favourite winters and one which I wouldl ove to read a detailed analysis of!

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[quote name='snowstormcanuck' timestamp='1323742770' post='1189407']
Can't wait. A half decent winter in what was a decade of real turds.
[/quote]

1980's were rough, well the mid and late 80's especially. Of course for the most part, that continued into the 90's.

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[quote name='Ottawa Blizzard' timestamp='1323743838' post='1189438']
Could you do the winter of 1993-94? By far one of my favourite winters and one which I wouldl ove to read a detailed analysis of!
[/quote]

I will do that one after I get done with 1981-82. :)

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[quote name='Chicago WX' timestamp='1323743939' post='1189448']
I will do that one after I get done with 1981-82. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]

Thanks![img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/thumbsupsmileyanim.gif[/img]

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[quote name='Chicago WX' timestamp='1323736994' post='1189165']
Thanks Mike. Didn't take me too long really...I'm efficient enough. It helps that I'm bored with this weather. Hopefully this will help pass the time while we wait for winter to arrive.

That being said, my next case will be the winter of 1981-82. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]
[/quote]

Amazing job man. The 1970's featured the greatest Winters ever and we could soon be heading that way with the PDO negative now ;)

BTW, when your using Toronto, I reccomend using the airport for Temperautures and snowfall is fine with the downtown station. The reason I imply this is because of the Urban Heat Island effect, etc, right?

For example in December 77 and Jan 78 here are the temp anomalies at YYZ in the order you sorted them; (high, low, avg)

Dec: 30.5F, 17.4F, 23.9F
Jan: 23.3F, 9.6F, 16.5F

And if you have the time, can you do 1959-60 or 1964-65. Either one of those, not both, lol.

Thanks man! Again great job :)

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[quote name='Snowstorms' timestamp='1323745796' post='1189525']

Amazing job man. The 1970's featured the greatest Winters ever and we could soon be heading that way with the PDO negative now [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img]

BTW, when your using Toronto, I reccomend using the airport for Temperautures and snowfall is fine with the downtown station. The reason I imply this is because of the Urban Heat Island effect, etc, right?

For example in December 77 and Jan 78 here are the temp anomalies at YYZ in the order you sorted them; (high, low, avg)

Dec: 30.5F, 17.4F, 23.9F
Jan: 23.3F, 9.6F, 16.5F

And if you have the time, can you do 1959-60 or 1964-65. Either one of those, not both, lol.

Thanks man! Again great job [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]

Thanks...I appreciate it.

Mike has certainly expressed frustration with YYZ's snow measurements in the past, so I'll use your method. Even if it's a little questionable. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png[/img]

I'll look into both of those seasons. Both were good, but I'll try to pick the best one. After I do 1981-82 and 1993-94 of course. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]

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[quote name='Chicago WX' timestamp='1323746614' post='1189556']
Thanks...I appreciate it.

Mike has certainly expressed frustration with YYZ's snow measurements in the past, so I'll use your method. Even if it's a little questionable. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png[/img]

I'll look into both of those seasons. Both were good, but I'll try to pick the best one. After I do 1981-82 and 1993-94 of course. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]
[/quote]

Yeah YYZ cant measure for [email protected] lol.

So in conclusion just in case you may hve misunderstood me loll;

Temps-YYZ Data
Snow- Downtown Data

1981-82/1993-94 were fairly sick Winters.

Thanks again man!

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[quote name='snowstormcanuck' timestamp='1323736783' post='1189154']
Damn Tim, you're hardcore. I can't even imagine how long it took you to compile that data. Fantastic work.
[/quote]

I concur...your efforts are truly appreciated.

86.1" of snow in January 1978 in South Bend...remarkable!

You're going for gold with these posts...the next winter on your list (1981-82) was a doozy. A truly arctic winter.

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Thanks for all the great info. Am I the only one that sits and daydreams sometimes about what the radar signature was like on the Superbomb? Im sure it has to be one of the more remarkable looking storms. I just wish we had full radar from back then.

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Amazing work Tim! Do want to correct you on Detroits snowfall though
Nov- 7.4" (correct)
Dec- 16.6" (not 22.0")
Jan- 29.6" (not 32.3")
Feb- 5.3" (correct)
Mar- 2.5" (correct)
Apr- 0.3" (correct)
Total- 61.7" (not 69.8")

***********************************
Other misc stats for Detroit:

Top 5 biggest snowstorms that winter:
1.) 8.2" - Jan 26-27 (yes, the blizzard didnt have an insane amount of snowfall here)
2.) 7.0" - Jan 1
3.) 6.4" - Dec 5
4.) 6.4" - Dec 8-9
5.) 5.6" - Nov 27

Peak snow depth: 15" on Jan 27

1"+ snowcover days= 91, which is ranks #1 (avg is 49 days). Snow covered the ground of 1"+ continuously from Jan 1st through Mar 15th.

After the blizzard, snowfall was very light. Only 8.3" TOTAL fell from Jan 28 through the end of winter, so certainly a frontloaded winter for snowfall. The biggest snowstorm after the blizzard was just 1.9" on Feb 5th. Bitter cold, dry, but nice snowcover engulfed Feb, likely an extremely suppressed storm track.

Polaroid my mom took 1-26-78
[img]http://icons-ak.wunderground.com/data/wximagenew/m/MichiganSnowLvr/2193-800.jpg[/img]

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[quote name='michsnowfreak' timestamp='1323823533' post='1192217']
Amazing work Tim! Do want to correct you on Detroits snowfall though
Nov- 7.4" (correct)
Dec- 16.6" (not 22.0")
Jan- 29.6" (not 32.3")
Feb- 5.3" (correct)
Mar- 2.5" (correct)
Apr- 0.3" (correct)
Total- 61.7" (not 69.8")
[/quote]

Damn Utah climate site is letting me down. :lol: [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/axesmiley.png[/img]

Thanks for the heads up. I'll make the corrections.

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[quote name='Chicago WX' timestamp='1323823693' post='1192227']
Damn Utah climate site is letting me down. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/laugh.png[/img] [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/axesmiley.png[/img]

Thanks for the heads up. I'll make the corrections.
[/quote]
You do all this great work, I will see if I can compile you a list of NWS pages that have monthly snowfall. I know not all do, but DTX does and its very user friendly. Or if you have any questions about snowstorms or snow depth for DTW for a certain winter, you can pm. Anything to save you a bit of time :)

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dtx/cms.php?n=decadetable

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[quote name='michsnowfreak' timestamp='1323824168' post='1192241']
You do all this great work, I will see if I can compile you a list of NWS pages that have monthly snowfall. I know not all do, but DTX does and its very user friendly. Or if you have any questions about snowstorms or snow depth for DTW for a certain winter, you can pm. Anything to save you a bit of time [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]

[url="http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dtx/cms.php?n=decadetable"]http://www.crh.noaa....p?n=decadetable[/url]
[/quote]

I know of all of the NWS pages with monthly snowfall, as little as there is unfortunately. I've just been lazy and haven't cross checked the data on Utah with the NWS data. Lesson learned. Thanks though. :)

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A winter that will probably never be surpassed locally. 68.5 inches of snow in Dec'77. A remarkable 60" fell between Dec 5 - Dec 9. An average of a foot per day over the 5 consecutive days. Snow weenies on this board would be going orgasmic if that was their backyard.
The 70's were the period when my interest in weather was born. I naively thought all winters would be similar. I didn't realize at the time how special the decade was if you're someone who loves winter weather.

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What I would give to see another Blizzard of '78. Probably the most powerful blizzard to hit the Great Lakes; 958 MB, more impressive was the 40 MB drop in 24 hours, 130 kt jet stream feeding into it. The result was wind chills at 60 below, and 110 mph wind gusts. Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and parts of Wisconsin were shut down for at least a week. Probably dropped 20-30" of snow but the blowing and drifting made it unmeasurable

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I pray daily for something similar to happen:D

[quote name='nwohweather' timestamp='1323893958' post='1193919']
What I would give to see another Blizzard of '78. Probably the most powerful blizzard to hit the Great Lakes; 958 MB, more impressive was the 40 MB drop in 24 hours, 130 kt jet stream feeding into it. The result was wind chills at 60 below, and 110 mph wind gusts. Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and parts of Wisconsin were shut down for at least a week. Probably dropped 20-30" of snow but the blowing and drifting made it unmeasurable
[/quote]

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[quote name='Nickysixes' timestamp='1324255276' post='1203308']
I pray daily for something similar to happen:D
[/quote]

Hey...you haven't posted on these boards in a long time. Do you have any snow in Traverse?

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[quote name='Chicago WX' timestamp='1323824356' post='1192252']
I know of all of the NWS pages with monthly snowfall, as little as there is unfortunately. I've just been lazy and haven't cross checked the data on Utah with the NWS data. Lesson learned. Thanks though. [img]http://img.amwx.us//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]

That was another great winter where Muskegon got 165 inches.

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