Fact Sheet - The Winter of 1977-78
Glen Conner
State Climatologist Emeritus for Kentucky
 
The winter of 1977-1978 was very different from previous winters in Kentucky. There have been colder temperatures and more snowfall in other years. Nevertheless, this one featured incessantly cold temperature and memorably persistent snow cover. The table below summarizes the mean snowfall for Kentucky's four climatological divisions. The individual stations in November were led by Dundee with eleven inches and, in December by Covington with 6.3 inches. The number of winter days with minimum temperatures at or below freezing at Covington was 65 days! Their distribution was two in November, ten in December, 23 in January, 28 in February, and 6 in March.
 
Table 1. - The mean snowfall by climatological regions in Kentucky for the 1977-1978 winter.
 
 
Western
Central
Bluegrass
Central
November 1977
3.1"
4.5"
4.5"
4.6"
December 1977
0.3"
1.7"
3.2"
3.1"
January 1978
22.0"
23.5"
22.6"
22.8"
February 1978
10.7"
10.0"
7.1"
11.4"
March 1978
4.0"
4.4"
8.8"
5.1"
 
January
Measurable snowfall was recorded somewhere in Kentucky on 19 of January's 31 days. Like the cold temperature, the snowfall persisted. Snow fell each day at Berea College from 12 through 22 January. At La Grange in Oldham County, 18 inches of fresh snow fell on top of seven inches already on the ground on 17 January with another five arriving on 20 January. That accumulation to a depth of 31 inches is the greatest on record for Kentucky. Blizzard conditions on 25-26 January caused the Kentucky State Police to close all roads except for extreme southeastern counties. The National Guard, called out on 16-20 January, was used again. Schools across the Commonwealth were closed for most of the month.
 
February
There was snow cover over Kentucky for all of February and the cold temperatures remained. Snow fell somewhere in Kentucky on 12 days. Daily temperatures that dipped below freezing were reported on all 28 days at 63 stations, on 27 days at 14 stations, and 26 days at one station. The snow persisted too. La Grange had 14 days with snow depth of 18 inches or more and, by the end of the month, ten inches remained.
 
March
Seven snowfall days were reported in March. The greatest snow depth was 15 inches at Owenton on 8 March. La Grange still had three inches of snow on the ground on 12 March. The total winter snowfall varied from 31.4 inches at Scottsville to 84 inches in La Grange. Days with an inch or more snow on the ground varied from 43 in Glasgow to a record setting 74 in Williamstown in Grant County. Without question, the winter of 1977-1978 was a memorable one when spring was eagerly anticipated.