For two days in 1978, Michigan felt the true power of Mother Nature's January fury—record snowfall coupled with hurricane-force winds buried parts of Michigan, Ohio, and Canada.

Related: Michigan Weather History: Highest, Lowest, Deepest, Wettest

This iconic whiteout, referred to as the Blizzard of 1978, remains the benchmark for Michigan's winter fury for those who lived through it. The legendary storm was made possible by converging two systems, one coming from Canada and the other moving north from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Storm That Brought a State to a Halt: Michigan's Blizzard of 1978 Statistics

Here are the snowfall statistics for the Blizzard of 1978 in Michigan, according to the National Weather Service (NWS):

  • Muskegon
    • 30 inches
  • Grand Rapids
    • 19 inches
  • Lansing
    • 19 inches
  • Houghton Lake
    • 15.4 inches
  • Dayton, Ohio
    • 12.2 inches
  • Detroit
    • 8.2 inches

The sudden burst of snow caused chaos within Michigan's infrastructure, with over 100,000 cars abandoned on the state's highways. According to the NWS, 20 people lost their lives as a direct or indirect result of the storm. The majority of the deaths were the result of heart attacks or car accidents on the treacherous roads. At least one person perished as a result of being stranded in their vehicle.

Those who lived through Michigan's Blizzard of 1978 seem to recall the historic storm with a gleam of fondness and nostalgia. Looking through some photo galleries definitely stirs memories of when Mother Nature unleashed her full winter fury upon the Mitten State.

Blizzard of 1978: When Mother Nature's Fury Shut Down Michigan

The Blizzard of 1978 was an iconic storm system made possible by two converging fronts, one from the Gulf of Mexico, meeting a northern system from Canada creating record snowfall and hurricane-force winds that shutdown Michigan's transportation system, both on the ground and in the air. Here's a look at WOOD TV 8's coverage from January 25th through January 27th, 1978.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

The Blizzard of 1978

Gallery Credit: Ethan Carey

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

Gallery Credit: KATELYN LEBOFF