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Old 02-05-2008, 11:12 AM   #1
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Default 30th Anniversary of the Blizzard of '78

I thought I would start a thread to remind those of us who were around and affected by the Great Blizzard of '78. Neal Strauss of the NWS Office in Boston posted a great article when recalling it 5 years ago. It has been reposted for the 30th anniversary. The slide show contained within the document is a great retrospective of what happened.

http://www.erh.noaa.gov/box/papers/b...izzardof78.htm

I remember exactly what I was doing and how it affected me personally as if it were yesterday. Anybody else??.....

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Old 02-05-2008, 11:35 AM   #2
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I remember it. It was my birthday.....2/6
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Old 02-05-2008, 12:11 PM   #3
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I was only 4, but I remember it was the only time the snow banks were taller then my dad!
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Old 02-05-2008, 01:54 PM   #4
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Default Memories of blizzard

Happy Birthday dpg!!!

My birthday was 2/1! I was 16 and living in Malden, MA. We were plowed out by a National Guard bulldozed. The hospital across the street received supplies via National Guard helicopter.
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:00 PM   #5
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Default That was a storm!

I lived in Lowell at the time. When the storm let up, I dug my car out and put on the chains, but General Dukakas had closed the roads. Being a volunteer for the Red Cross, I cross-county skied down to their building and spent the next few days driving nurses from their homes to the hospital. By Friday, the roads were pretty clear so I drove down to Westin to visit some friends. The cops got me just as I exited route 128 and I was busted for driving on bare dry roads while the ban was still on. Never paid the ticket, never was asked to. The shame of it all was that NH ski areas didn't get nearly as much.
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:43 PM   #6
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Default NJ suffered too

Back in 1978 I was working 32 miles from home at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals (now Novartis). Feb. 6th was the birthday of our boss + 1 other co-worker and we went to the cafeteria for morning break at 10 am and had a birthday cake with our coffee. Outside the snow was really getting heavy, we could barely see the parking lot behind the building. When we got back to our desks, they announced we were closing at 11. I left work and headed onto Route 80 East which hadn't been plowed yet. FOUR HOURS later, I finally made it home. What a trip. Work was closed the next day due to heavy snowfall and the governor had declared a state of emergency. Only my Dad headed to work the next day as NJ Bell employees were expected in no matter what. The following Monday, I remember 2 of my co-workers traveled to work via cross country skis. Those crazy Swiss!

Sadly, we found out that a family acquaintance suffered a heart attack while driving on the 6th and passed away at age 32. He had been driving to work, felt ill, and luckily pulled to the curb without hitting other cars. A plow driver saw him slumped in the car and reported it.

If memory serves me correctly, we had another heavy snowfall about a week later, but we didn't get clobbered as badly as New England.
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:41 PM   #7
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Post A Winter Hurricane Remembered

When this storm first hit, I left work in Boston at 4.00 pm and it took me seven hours to drive home because of all the abandoned vehicles that I had to find my way around, normally a 45 minute drive.

Storm facts; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northea...torm_formation
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On the following Wednesday, I had gotten a phone call from my service manager saying that he and the owner were going to the shop to shovel out. They had to walk from Dorchester to the shop on Mass. Ave in Roxbury because the roads were still closed.
I drove in to help, on the way there was a D8 dozer right in the middle of Rte 24 that had thrown a track, only one lane open. When I got to the Mass Ave exit there was a registry cop blocking the exit, and I stopped and rolled down my window, showed him my DPU license for buses, he moved the traffic cones and waved me on. When I pulled into Truck Center, you should have seen the look I got from my bosses! .. They said, how the h___ did you get in here!

They had all the work done, so I gave them a ride back to their cars.
We didn't open for business until the following Monday.
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:38 AM   #8
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Exclamation I made it home when others did not

I was working in Fall River MA on that fatefull day and it was snowing pretty good but I was not concerned. About 1 PM I called my wife at work in Acton MA where we lived and she told me that the storm was really bad there. She had also talked with a person in NJ who said the storm was really bad there and that weather predictions were it was coming our way so I should head home as soon as possible.

So I listened to the radio and the warnings and that companies were letting people go home early due to the weather. I decided that going up Rt 24 to Rt 128 was a bad idea based on traffic reports and headed west to Providence RI which turned out to be slow but no problem. I then headed north on Rt 95 and that is when things got really bad as night had settled in. Visability was horrible and by the time I reached Rt 495N I could barely see the road let alone road signs and other cars. I traveled 495 at 10 to 20 MPH all the way to Rt 2A in Littleton and into Acton MA. I followed other car tracks and passed many a car totally stopped in the middle of the highway but never got stuck or otherwise held up. This trip which was usually about 1.5 hours (70 + miles) but it turned into 5+ hours. All of this was in a Chevy Suburban 2 wheel drive.

After having a late dinner I plowed snow for the apartment comlex we lived at in shift with another person for the rest of the night. We could only keep the main road open. The next day after snow blowing what we could I went out in the plow truck and found a convience store opened up the street and got milk and bread for the elderly and those with small children in our complex.

I will never forget the very dangerous drive home or plowing that night and that I made it home when so many did not. BTW the Chevy was completely buried in snow the day after the storm.
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Old 02-06-2008, 08:12 AM   #9
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I was about to turn 12, and we lived in Lynnfield, MA at the time. My mother had the unfortunate timing of having surgery the weekend before the blizzard, so she was pretty much trapped at Union Hospital in Lynn. The drifts outside my house were so big that my sister and I were jumping off the porch into them...head first!!
At least a couple times that week we walked down to the local store (Worthens Market in Lynnfield Center) to get necessary supplies. Main St was plowed, but barely passable by car. We had no school Monday-Friday.
I think it was on the Friday that my mother got released from the hospital. We got in the car and headed up to 128, which was still closed. We explained to the nice National Guard guys where we were going, and we went on our way.
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Old 02-06-2008, 08:44 AM   #10
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Post Hey JS..

You reminded me... At the time, I was driving a 1977 chevy vega GT 5 speed, two wheel drive. Before I left work for home, I put four bags of speedy dry and a case of Miller under the hatch for ballast. I stopped a few times to help other folks get unstuck and used some of the speedy dry for traction. It was brutal, but I made it Home.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:30 AM   #11
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The shame of it all was that NH ski areas didn't get nearly as much.
Oh I beg to differ LG.I had a skihouse in Twin Mt right across the street from Hogans Market which was an official weather station.We "officially" recieved 44 inches.We could not get to Cannon right down the road which recieved 40 inches.
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:22 AM   #12
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I was living in Bossier City LA at the time, and my grandfather (Dad's dad) passed away on the Saturday before the blizzard hit (a Monday). Dad was on a cruise with his boss in the Caribbean. I landed just after noontime and Dad was due in at 3:00. We waited til 3:00, and no planes landed. Went to the ticket counter and finally found someone, who said, oh nothings landing here now, and that flight went to Bangor ME. We got into my Mom's Ford Falcon (great snow car) and headed out to Reading MA where we lived. Normal forty min drive was about an hour and a half., but we made it. Stopped at a store and got some food and then went home to hunker down and wait out the storm. Snow was absolutely sideways, and the wind was as loud as I can ever remember. On Wed, Dad and 4 other guys pooled together and got a car rental agency to rent them a car, and we met Dad at the Portsmouth circle. Funeral was on Friday in Methuen, and where they moved snow with a front end loader to uncover the grave, it was piled so high that you could not see the canopy over the site until you got to the site. Sad time, but a memorable one also.

As a side note, after the storm we headed up here to do some snowmobiling over the weekend. SS, you are right, we were plowed out, but we had snow about chest deep that we had to shovel to get into the house. The snow banks we have now are every bit as high, but not the result of one storm.
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:38 AM   #13
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Happy Birthday dpg!!!

My birthday was 2/1! I was 16 and living in Malden, MA. We were plowed out by a National Guard bulldozed. The hospital across the street received supplies via National Guard helicopter.

Thank you. You were 16 then? We're about the same ago, graduated high school in '79. Maybe you were '80?
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Old 02-06-2008, 01:32 PM   #14
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Default Hey, Just Sold!

I was living in Swansea, Ma, during that wonderful storm. You were just next door!

I was a senior in High School and went to a private school in Providence. We were dismissed at about 1pm and the bus (one for all the kids from our neighborhood who went to school in Providence) came for us. We got home without a hitch. My brother was in school in Dartmouth and must have made it home easily as well. Two boys from another school in Providence took their mom's car to school that day. It had chains on the tires. They didn't get home that night as they got stuck behind another car which couldn't move. We missed an entire week of school. The underclassmen had to make them up, but the seniors didn't. It was great!

We didn't get plowed out for DAYS! The National Guard came and took my dad to work at the hospital (he's an MD). Finally, my mother sent my brother and I out into the snow to trudge down to the little store to get whatever we could lay out hands on. When we got to the end of our street, we discoverd that ours was the only one that hadnt been plowed.

Still, at 17, it seemed like a great adventure. I wouldn't mind living though it again just so my kids could experience Mother Nature at her worst - or best depending on your point of view.

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Old 02-06-2008, 08:12 PM   #15
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Thank you. You were 16 then? We're about the same ago, graduated high school in '79. Maybe you were '80?
Yes, I graduated in 1980. Will never forget that storm. No school for the whole week. So much snow so fast and nowhere to put it!
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:24 PM   #16
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I was living in Groton, Ct. then, working for Electric Boat (EB - the sub maker). The night before the storm, I didn't know it was coming but had gone to the store, gotten groceries, books, mags, etc for some intuitive reason. The next morning an EB friend called to offer a ride to work in their jeep and I said no, I'd be all right. However, when I got down to the car, the snow was over the wheels so called and got my friends to come after all. It took us an hour to get up the hill to EB (a one mile, 5 minute ride normally) and we no sooner got to work, that we found out the governor had declared a state of emergency for Ct. and that EB would be closed for the week along with about every company in Ct. and RI and Mass. We never lost power the whole time and it was actually quite a nice restful respite. My poor brother in Mass., however, worked for the town DPW and ended up plowing for some 48 hours straight without hardly a break. The DPW had cots, food, etc. My father's boss and his wife had snowmobiles and spent the week ferrying health workers to hospitals to work. I will never forget the TV pictures of Route 128 with those 1000 plus cars stranded and at the end of the storm, how they had to systematically remove them to clear the roadway. Quite something wasn't it?
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:03 AM   #17
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I was lucky that i listened to my wife( she was eight months pregnant and our daughter was born two weesk later) how keep calling me at work telling me to come home. I left around 12 and got home in two hours( around 15 miles) others that stayed at work until late afternoon didn't get home for three days.
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Old 02-07-2008, 02:00 PM   #18
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Default What happened during the blizzard !!

Just a hint... my son was born 9 mths later !! Trapped in the house for 5 days what is a young couple to do, we didnt even have cable !!!
The maternity wards were so busy when my son was born, in November, that women were on stretchers in the hallway because all the rooms and delivery rooms were full !!!

I remember walking to the grocery store with a sled to get whatever they had... which wasnt much. It was quite an adventure. I think every generation should have there blizzard.

Does anybody remember Shelby Scott from channel 4 news during the storm they had the poor women tied to a porch post on a house in Winthrop- the wind was blowing the sea was blowing over the wall and this poor women just stood there doing her reports- I remember her hat it was frozen solid...
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:02 PM   #19
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Default The Blizzards

I would like to relate my story about the first blizzard of 1978 the latter part of the "The Midwest Blizzard of 1978" which was responsible for over 70 deaths in the Midwest and hit NJ on January 27th. It dumped 32” of snow in northwestern NJ and was accompanied by 60 mph + winds. Of course this was followed by the even bigger storm a little more than a week later on February 5th.

I was living in Sparta, NJ and working in Manhattan at the time. It was a 72 mile - 2 hour commute involving car, train and subway.

I left that morning in my 1972 Red Ford Pinto at about 5:30AM and it had just started to snow. I had a 15 mile drive to the train station in Dover, NJ and by the time I got there the snow was already 2 or 3 inches deep. I contemplated turning around and going back home, but I had a big meeting in the office which I had to be there for. So I parked my car and got on the commuter train, which at that time was made up of circa 1915 passenger cars with open vestibules and were still painted army green from World War II. We started our trip in to NYC meanwhile the snow kept falling and blowing and on several occasions the train got stuck in the drifts, had to back up and push forward to keep going. I ended up getting into the office at 11:30 am to find out my meeting was cancelled (duh!) and the office was closing at noon.

So, at noon I began my trek back home. Got back on the train, but because so many were trying to escape Gotham, the trains were packed and I had to spend the first hour of my trip in an open vestibule as there was not enough room for many of us in the train cars. The trip back on the train was more of the same as in the morning except that by now they had some engines with mounted snow plows helping clear the way. When we got back to Dover I found that the snow in the parking lot was over 2 feet deep by now and it had not been plowed. Several of us with snow shovels in our cars shoveled each other out and shoveled a “road” of about 300 feet to get out of the parking lot.

As I approached Rte. 15 which led back up the Sparta Mountain (it would be big hill in NH), I could see that it was not plowed and in very rough shape. With that, 5 state snow plow trucks pulled from the state garage at the base of Rte. 15 and began plowing the highway. Remember I am in a 1972 Ford Pinto (rear wheel drive) studded snow tires, but big deal in 36” of snow. We proceed up the “mountain” for 10 miles behind the blocking line of plow trucks at about 5 mph until I reached my exit, which by now was blocked by a 6 or 7 foot wall of snow created by the plows. Not knowing whether the ramp was plowed beyond the wall of snow, but realizing if I parked the car and tried to walk the 4 more miles to civilization I would not make it (wind was blowing at about 60 mph and the temperature was around 20 degrees), I decided to go full speed ahead through the wall of snow. Of course this could have been a disastrously stupid decision, but I was lucky. The Pinto came out the other side, snow flying all over the place and low and behold, the ramp and the roads all the way home were plowed. I walked in the door at 8:30 pm – 14½ hours of commuting for ½ hour of work. Of course this was pre-cell phones so other than a call shortly before noon my wife had no idea how I was until I walked in the door – a more harrowing day for her and the kids than me.

How does this tie into the great Northeast Blizzard of 1978 which came about a week later? I had pulled the Pinto next to a 4’ retaining wall in front of my house where it got plowed in, then the 2/5 storm hit and I did not see the Pinto again until I dug it out in March! It started up first try – I think that was the only time it ever did that.
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:47 AM   #20
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Default NJ Blizzards

Grady,

Thanks for the reminder about the 1st blizzard. I knew here in NJ we had 2 in early 1978 which were less than 2 weeks apart. I forgot that the 2/6 storm was actually the 2nd one. Like you, I had a rear wheel drive car (1982 Monte Carlo) which was terrible in the snow. During both storms I had a 3-4 hour commute home which normally took under an hour (32 miles each way). My Dad did the same thing as you did following plows. At the time he was working in Cedar Knolls for Ma Bell and left home in Ridgefield at 5:30 am to get to the office. He got behind some plows on I-80 and followed them to Parsippany. When he got to his exit for 46W, there was a huge pile of snow from the plows, so he backed up his little red Chevette and gave it the gun. Luckily, the ramp and 46 on the other side were plowed and he made it to work. Unlike the phone company which never closes, I was home in bed since Sandoz was closed. As Dad said when he left home, "The voice must go through.", and yes, that was in the day before cell phones, so those at home had to wait for a phone call once the commuters arrived safely at work.
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:16 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by joann721 View Post
Does anybody remember Shelby Scott from channel 4 news during the storm they had the poor women tied to a porch post on a house in Winthrop- the wind was blowing the sea was blowing over the wall and this poor women just stood there doing her reports- I remember her hat it was frozen solid...
it goes: "It is not a storm unless SHelby Scott is reporting it," I have no idea what we will do when she is gone!
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:49 AM   #22
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Grady,

Thanks for the reminder about the 1st blizzard. I knew here in NJ we had 2 in early 1978 which were less than 2 weeks apart. I forgot that the 2/6 storm was actually the 2nd one. Like you, I had a rear wheel drive car (1982 Monte Carlo) which was terrible in the snow. During both storms I had a 3-4 hour commute home which normally took under an hour (32 miles each way). My Dad did the same thing as you did following plows. At the time he was working in Cedar Knolls for Ma Bell and left home in Ridgefield at 5:30 am to get to the office. He got behind some plows on I-80 and followed them to Parsippany. When he got to his exit for 46W, there was a huge pile of snow from the plows, so he backed up his little red Chevette and gave it the gun. Luckily, the ramp and 46 on the other side were plowed and he made it to work. Unlike the phone company which never closes, I was home in bed since Sandoz was closed. As Dad said when he left home, "The voice must go through.", and yes, that was in the day before cell phones, so those at home had to wait for a phone call once the commuters arrived safely at work.
You had an '82 Monte in 1978? Wow! The car of the future!
I am just giving you crap, I am sure it was a typo...
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:14 AM   #23
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Default Oops, wrong blizzard year

Chip,

You're right, it wasn't a typo, but I do remember having trouble keeping that Chevy on the road in bad weather. In 1978 I was driving a '76 Audi Fox which also wasn't too good in the snow. The '82 Monte was even more of a nightmare, and I had a few bad commutes in that car over a few winters along the same route. I guess I had that car on my mind, since with that one I do remember sliding on Route 80 on my way home in a snowstorm and almost kissing the concrete divider. Talk about a white knuckle ride. By then I too was working for MA Bell in Cedar Knolls, 32 miles from home and had no office closings - they expected you at work and even gave you grief if you arrived late despite the road conditions, and of course there was no such thing as an early dismissal.

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Old 02-08-2008, 02:29 PM   #24
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I'll never forget that storm either. Made it to work in Philadelphia without too much problem ('68 Ford pickup), only to have my boss ask me where I parked. I told him and he said he didn't see it , then let me go outside and see for myself. At this point I had a real sinking feeling inside.
Well , I could see where it WAS and the tire marks in the snow on the parking lot from my brand new Goodyear Wranglers.Recovered it 5 days later sitting on the ground (no tires or wheels)in North Phila. Had a few other things missing but since it was too old to have theft ins. on it and still in great shape a week later , new tires (again) new battery and radiator it was back on the road again
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Old 02-08-2008, 03:32 PM   #25
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Chip,

You're right, it wasn't a typo, but I do remember having trouble keeping that Chevy on the road in bad weather. In 1978 I was driving a '76 Audi Fox which also wasn't too good in the snow. The '82 Monte was even more of a nightmare, and I had a few bad commutes in that car over a few winters along the same route. I guess I had that car on my mind, since with that one I do remember sliding on Route 80 on my way home in a snowstorm and almost kissing the concrete divider. Talk about a white knuckle ride. By then I too was working for MA Bell in Cedar Knolls, 32 miles from home and had no office closings - they expected you at work and even gave you grief if you arrived late despite the road conditions, and of course there was no such thing as an early dismissal.
All those cars of that generation were difficult at best to keep on the road in the snow. I was a youngin' in 1978, my first car didn't come until 1983, which was a 1976 Chrysler Cordoba. That car was a monster. And I had a lot of fun in my high school years crashing into snow banks.
My second car was a 1982 Dodge Omni. Front wheel drive. I remember hearing how well those drove in the snow. So what does a 19 year old kid do? Gotta test it out. That is how I found out that they don't turn so well in the snow if you have your foot on the gas.
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:08 PM   #26
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I spent the night in the Warwick RI Police station!! .... with about 300 other people.

Got one of the last commuter busses out of Providence RI going south. The driver stayed off Rt 95 and took secondary roads. He got as far as Warwick when the traffic just stopped. Around 9pm the people on the buss started walking the mile or so to the police station in hopes they would give us shelter. We were greeted with hot coffee, hot chocolate and several hundred others that were stranded. Fortunatly they had a large lobby and large community room. Met up with some people I knew and we sat around telling jokes and laughing for hours. (the laughing seemed to irritate the grumpy ones around us) Got a few hours sleep on a gym mat in a hallway next to a guy that snored badly but because of the 38 on his hip I thought it wise not to poke him. In the morning we had some beef stew from the emergency Civil Defense rations, boy did that taste good Got a ride almost home from a police captain that afternoon. It only took me about 24 hours to get home from the time I left work.
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Old 02-09-2008, 06:20 PM   #27
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In the Lakes Region, it was not a big deal!
However, my folks lived near Hull MA, one of the worst damage along coast.

The BIGGER deal snow storm was Feb. 1969. Forecasters said a few inches of flurries; three days later, there was 3-4 FEET. The another large amount towards end of the month.

Then winter of 1970, I was fortunate to be skiing in Europe where it was one of the largest snowfall on record. I experienced unbelievable skiing both winters/spring.
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Old 02-13-2008, 07:54 PM   #28
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Default Blizzard of 78 ripped off my first born!

Our first child was born 1-21-78 in the middle of a huge blizzard.. called the biggest storm in 100 years by the Boston Globe... I still have the newspaper.

Only to be followed 2 weeks later by the "Blizzard of 78"

Check this out.... look at the record on 1/20/78 21" !!!

http://www.geocities.com/donsutherla...lyrecords.html

YA YA I know... he just turned 30 that makes me... (gulp) really old !
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Old 02-14-2008, 06:30 PM   #29
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Default The blizzard...

The blizzard of 1978. My husband and I were newlywed and had JUST been transferred from Sarasota, Fla. to Wells, Me. effective Feb 1. Wells had already received significant snowfall. We found a little cottage by the sea, a "winter rental" that had no insulation but a really big oil tank. We were newlyweds -- what did we know about oil, insulation, or northeast storms, for that matter.

The storm hit. The wind blew so hard, I could not keep candles lit -- indoors. We lost power for three days. Needless to say, this Florida bride was terrified! My husband brought home a 100 lb gas cylinder and a salamander to burn, indoors, to keep us warm. It is a miracle we did not burn down the cottage! Yes, I remember the storm of 1978, like it was yesterday. Thirty years later, we still share those memories of the "good old days!"

Happy Valentine's day, everybody!
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Old 02-14-2008, 06:58 PM   #30
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Default effects still felt...

I believe the effects of this blizzard are still felt today. It was because of this storm, when roads closed, and noone could go anywhere, that, now, to this day, whenever a major snow storm is predicted everyone seems to go into a panic. It seems the night before any storm, people line up at local gas stations, and strip the shelves bare at every grocery store. All because people remember a time when the snow fell, and they ran out of food, with no means to get more. The truth, of course, is that we have since had similar storms (32 inches, March 2001 or 2002) but nothing like '78 will ever happen again now, because we are much better able to deal with blizzards. Front wheel drive, and 4x4 SUVs really did not exist yet, and plows were not nearly as big and powerful as they are now. These days, just about everyone has front drive, or 4x4 vehicle, and it seems as though there is a pick up truck with a plow blade in every nieghborhood. No matter how much snow we get, 24 hours later it's business as usual.
The blizzard of 78 was real cool though. I was in sixth grade, and remember sitting around the kitchen table each night playing board games with the family by candle light, as there was no power for 3 days. To be young again....
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