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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.

November 15-30, 1977 500H mean: Winter arrives.

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

January 1-31, 1978 500H mean: Cold, snow, Super Bomb.

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

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

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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. biggrin.png

1977-78 monthly and winter mean temperatures

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)

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

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).

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.

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Damn Tim, you're hardcore. I can't even imagine how long it took you to compile that data. Fantastic work.

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. biggrin.png

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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. biggrin.png

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

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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. biggrin.png

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

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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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!

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

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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. biggrin.png

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

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 smile.png

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. tongue.png

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. biggrin.png

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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. tongue.png

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. biggrin.png

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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Damn Tim, you're hardcore. I can't even imagine how long it took you to compile that data. Fantastic work.

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

2193-800.jpg

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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")

Damn Utah climate site is letting me down. :lol:axesmiley.png

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

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Damn Utah climate site is letting me down. laugh.pngaxesmiley.png

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

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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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 smile.png

http://www.crh.noaa....p?n=decadetable

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

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 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. smile.png

That was another great winter where Muskegon got 165 inches.

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It would have been fun tracking the 78 storm with the current models. GGEM probably would blow its mind lol.

Extended RUC probably would've had a 948 mb on the IN/OH line.

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