Here in southeast Michigan older people still talk about “The Winter of ’78.” The 1977-1978 winter season saw record-setting snowfall and at least one significant blizzard, making it one for the record books. Until now. The winter of 2013-2014 shattered many previous records for both snowfall and cold temperatures, and was in general the most miserable winter I’ve ever experienced here. The Weather Channel even ranked nearby Toledo as the worst winter city of the season.
We ended up with over 85″ (216 cm) of snow, an all-time record for the area. Snow cover persisted from late December to mid-March, and throughout most of the winter we had over three feet (1 m) of snow on the ground. January in particular was the snowiest on record when we accumulated over 40″ (102 cm) of snow.
Even worse than the snow was the brutal cold. It was the fifth-coldest winter in history, with winter temperatures averaging out to 20.4 F (-6.4 C). Nine days set new record low temperatures, we got below 0 F (-18 C) on 25 different days, and Toledo reached a near-all-time low of -15 F (-26 C). I think it got closer to -20 F (-29 C) here in the country.
The worst part of this winter was when our furnace quit working on New Year’s Day. It took almost a week to get a replacement, and in the meantime we had to rely on three small electric space heaters we borrowed. This was when the lows got below -10 F (-23 C) every night and the highs didn’t reach 10 F (-12 C) in the day. By the time our new furnace was installed and running, inside the house it was down to only 35 F (2 C) and some of our pipes had frozen (but thankfully didn’t burst).
Below-average temperatures persisted into late March. When average highs were supposed to be around 50 F (10 C), we struggled to get above freezing. Snow cover didn’t start breaking up until mid-March, and even now in April there are still piles of plowed snow sticking around. This week we’re finally supposed to see highs flirting with 60 F (16 C), and although spring is off to a late start things are finally looking up.