The Midwest, including Illinois, experienced in 1977-1978 its most severe winter since weather records began in the early 19th century. The major impact in Illinois came from a record-breaking number of 18 severe winter storms. In a normal year, only 4 storms occur. The record winter began with three snowstorms in late November and ended with an extremely damaging ice storm in late March. Unusual snow patterns occurred with several storms, and they lasted in Illinois much longer than usual. Weather conditions (low pressure centers) producing many of the storms were more often of Canadian origin than usual, and these lows had lower pressure and moved slower than normal, resulting in higher surface winds and longer lasting and hence more severe storms. Cold temperatures coupled with the frequent snowstorms resulted in record long-lasting snow cover with up to 120 days with 1 inch or more cover in northern Illinois and 90 days in southern Illinois. The storms led to deaths of 62 persons and injuries to more than 2,000. Utilities and communication systems suffered great losses due to damage to lines, poles and towers. Transportation losses included damaged vehicles, delayed shipments, and great delays in bus and airline service; however, railroads benefited with increased usage, and helicopters and snowmobiles proved valuable in rescue service. The local, state, and federal institutions were beset with enormous and costly problems, including care of roads and lost taxable income due to absenteeism.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Prepared in cooperation with Illinois Dept. of Registration and Education, Springfield.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Illinois State Water Survey Division

    2204 Griffith Drive
    Champaign, IL  United States  61820

    Illinois Department of Registration and Education

    Springfield, IL  United States 

    Office of Water Research and Technology

    C Street between 18th and 19th Streets, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20242
  • Authors:
    • Changnon, SAJ
    • Changnon, D
  • Publication Date: 1978

Media Info

  • Pagination: 30 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00197967
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: ISWS/RI-88/78, W79-05013
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 27 1979 12:00AM