1978, one of the biggest ice storms across the Valley

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 7, 2022 at 10:25 PM EST
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March can be more of an “anything can happen kind of month.”

On March 25-26 1978, a significant ice storm impacted many areas including the Valley. Freezing rain starting falling the night of the 25th, on the eve of Easter Sunday.

According to records, ice accumulation was the “thickest of memory for many observers.” Easter Sunday was put to a halt as roads were impassable, many trees and power lines were taken down, and television and radio stations were off-air.

Pam Southard recalls being stuck on the road, “I was headed home from ETSU and was stranded on 81 for the entire night. Everyone was pulled over. It was a very long, cold night! And no cell phones in those days to call and tell anyone where I was. I am not sure how my mom got through that night either.”

Kaye Dickenson Hill describes her experience, “We drove from Harrisonburg to Broadway, via Rt. 11 and trees were down across the road at many places. I think we were the only vehicle on the road, actually. The road was covered with very slick ice, electrical wires were down, it looked like a war zone.”

Alice Pleasants Reichard was along Skyline drive during the storm and got stuck. “It was my first weekend working at Skyland Lodge on Skyline Drive. Easter Weekend, got iced in.”

Augusta County and Staunton were notably hit hard by this ice storm. An icy wonderland brought 15,000 acres of tree and power line damage. The estimated cost of damage was $9.5 million. No deaths or injuries occurred, but property and crop damage was extensive.