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I used to live in the Boston area and for what ever reason thought I d see what was on Youtube for clips of that period , turns out not a whole lot but enough to get the basic feel for the time .
I was pretty busy back then as I had a F250 4x4 with 8' Fisher plow helping my neighbors and string of driveway plowing customers dig out from this N.E. record storm . Any one else recall how Rte 128 was plugged for most of a week ? of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was effectively closed for a week by order of the Govenor .Now that was a storm no small tractor with a thrower or blower or blade could do much against a snow that fell at rates of 2"-4" per hour at times combined with high winds and drifts 6 plus feet .
 

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I worked for the Illinois Tollway then. I remember snow drifted over the power lines. We had so much snow, we ran out of places to push it.
 

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yes the 70,s was alot different.ice used to be 3ft thick.now only maybe a ft or so.cold.40 below o.now not over 30 below.snows are way lighter .but I remember in the 50,s we had big snows to.I think it just go,s threw cycles.I,ll be glad when I can garden 365.winters aren,t to bad anymore.it would be nice not to have to cut 25 cord of wood.saw seems to be getting alot heavyer.plus takes longer to find half dry wood.most trees been cut over the years.I hate to cut living trees.well have a good winter cos shes coming on.summer left in a blink.
 

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Yep, lived thru that:drunkie:
I drove around in my '70 Monte til the snow got about 6-8" on the street, had to make good headway without errors or be put in 'stucksville', 20-30 miles south of Bhauston

The next morn, our cars at the end of drive were under 6'+ drifts
Spent the next few days, partying in the car, covered. Jumping off our 2 story roof, into 20'+ drifts,,, wicked good times

At one point were were 'thumbing' rides from snowmobilers who ran us a mile to the store. 2 + weeks before any plow movement on the street, which ended up being a rubber tire loaders
 

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I remember it well. A guy with a FEL on a dozer came and offered to clear our drivefor $50. 180 feet of double width. I said sure. He kept trying to push and kept slipping on an ice puddle. Didn't know enough to just pick it up and dump it to the side. THEN, after 4 hours his BOSS came by !! He was making "side money" , lol !
The drifts around our house were as high as the windows. The next day our German Shepard walked bye the kitchen window and looked DOWN at us. I swear he backed up and did a double take-honest! :sidelaugh
 

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OH, and another story : Local police put out a call for people with 4wd. I had a '74 Chevy Blazer, so I called them. " OH, no sir! We don't want YOU on the road..... we just want to use your vehicle. " YEHHH RIIIIGHT..... THAT wasn't gonna happen. I ran errands for folks in the neighborhood. That was the only time people were seen as neighbors, ie. on the streets talking to one another, in ages.
 

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I was living on L.I. then. I had been working a 12-8 shift and on the way home I fought some pretty deep drifts with the Jeep Cherokee. When I reached my street, it hadn't been touched and there were no tire tracks at all so I figured, "I can get through this". Ha! I started driving through the fresh snow and got about 50 feet before the snow came up over the grille. Even with the 4WD, I was stuck. Luckily, my neighbor came out with a shovel and helped me back up to the more plowed road, where I parked in a drift. I had to walk about 1000 feet in snow up to my hips to get home. That in itself was a day's work. My wife was out shoveling the driveway. Later that day I bought my first snow blower, which still works perfectly. :thThumbsU Yes, that was quite the storm. :snowing:

But now, it is going to be 80 here today so I'll think about fishing and boating. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9

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The "Blizzard of '78" was THE biggie when I was growing up.

A lot of folks don't realize that the storm wasn't just a nor'easter snow blizzard, but was really a winter hurricane for folks along the coast.

We were in the yellow zone along the coast in partlycloudy's map (above). We got dumped with snow (about 2' in a day). But the wind was what really scared us. We had had a few summer/autumn hurricanes pass nearby over the years, but none compared to this storm.

We lost power for well over a week -- in the middle of a frigid blast of air that followed the storm. We hung blankets to close off other rooms in our home, and huddled near the fireplace, where we also cooked our meals. Roads were impassable.

The storm peak hit at high tide, on an already astronomically high tide. So the storm surge came right over the beaches and destroyed huge swaths of waterfront homes. Imagine dealing with a wall of storm surge, in the middle of a frigid blizzard that is dumping more than 1" per hour of snow!? Some of those lots were never rebuilt.

We missed school for two weeks. We had a blast in all that snow.

There were many fatalities attributed to the storm. One story that really sticks with me, though, was the loss of a boy about my own age. A few towns over from us. He had bundled up to go out and play in the snow when it was coming down fast. He didn't come home, and soon his family was frantic looking for him. Everyone helped search, but in the peak of the storm their efforts were fruitless. They didn't find him.

About six weeks later, spring thaw came. A member of his family went out the front door, and something in the now-melted snow caught their attention. The boy had apparently slipped on his own front doorstep, fallen off to the side of it, and been covered so quickly that he was never detected. It was heartbreaking.

A vicious storm it was.

EDIT:

P.S. I'm not sure whether partlycloudy's link above is for the correct storm. Seems to me that inland around about Worcester had heavier snowfall amounts than our coastal area -- closer to 30" as I recall. Partlycloudy indicates for "Jan 21" and the Blizzard of '78 was in mid-February. Hmmm?

P.P.S. Okay, I poked around a bit, and this is the storm that we call the Great Blizzard of '78: http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/projects/snowstorm/ Of course, this map only shows snowfall amounts, and doesn't reflect the hurricane force winds and associated snow drifting, storm surge along the coast, or duration of power outages.

I was surprised at the ranking of this storm both here and here. I have lived through many of the other storms ranked higher on those lists, and most paled by comparison.

I guess it depends on what criteria are used for ranking. If the main criteria is the extant and depth of widespread snow coverage, that is one thing. But if you were to include the windspeed and storm surge along the Massachusetts/Rhode Island/NH coastline in those affected areas, I think you'd have a different result. Similar to the difference of being within the path of a hurricane and not. If you're not in the hurricane, the storm doesn't seem so bad.
 

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I and several friends leased our loaders to the city of Boston for almost two weeks. We made a small fortune clearing streets and doing side jobs. The loaders would run24/7. Because the drifts were so deep it was not unusual to actually pick up a small car hidden in the piles. People were getting so riled that some areas had armed national guards escorting the loaders. I don't miss it now.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)

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To clarify, yes there were multiple blizzards in '78, depending on where you were, either one may be called the big one. The images I referred you to are from a project of mine. It focuses on snow storms over interior New England, not coastal locations, so hence the lower ranking.

When it comes to ranking snow storms, it's not as easy as rating Hurricanes or Tornadoes, not that the latter are easy. As you said, the high winds, frigid temperatures, and snowfall rate are also factors - it's hard to objectively incorporate such factors into storm ratings.

The way we derived our storm list was by simply looking at snow totals at 30 locations, and did a simple area-average. Another way to do it is by population affected, or population weighted, which probably does a better job of the societal impact. NOAA has adapted a Northeast Snow Storm Impact Scale from such research, see: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/snow-and-ice/nesis.php#rankings

The size of the storm makes it tricky too - you all probably recall a variety of big storms, but not all these affected the same areas. In any case, I look forward to the prospects of another big storm this winter!

If we had another '78 like event, we'd be better prepared for it, and know it was coming 1 or 2 days out, but how people would respond is questionable IMHO, since it's such a rare event.

The "Blizzard of '78" was THE biggie when I was growing up.

A lot of folks don't realize that the storm wasn't just a nor'easter snow blizzard, but was really a winter hurricane for folks along the coast.

We were in the yellow zone along the coast in partlycloudy's map (above). We got dumped with snow (about 2' in a day). But the wind was what really scared us. We had had a few summer/autumn hurricanes pass nearby over the years, but none compared to this storm.

We lost power for well over a week -- in the middle of a frigid blast of air that followed the storm. We hung blankets to close off other rooms in our home, and huddled near the fireplace, where we also cooked our meals. Roads were impassable.

The storm peak hit at high tide, on an already astronomically high tide. So the storm surge came right over the beaches and destroyed huge swaths of waterfront homes. Imagine dealing with a wall of storm surge, in the middle of a frigid blizzard that is dumping more than 1" per hour of snow!? Some of those lots were never rebuilt.

We missed school for two weeks. We had a blast in all that snow.

There were many fatalities attributed to the storm. One story that really sticks with me, though, was the loss of a boy about my own age. A few towns over from us. He had bundled up to go out and play in the snow when it was coming down fast. He didn't come home, and soon his family was frantic looking for him. Everyone helped search, but in the peak of the storm their efforts were fruitless. They didn't find him.

About six weeks later, spring thaw came. A member of his family went out the front door, and something in the now-melted snow caught their attention. The boy had apparently slipped on his own front doorstep, fallen off to the side of it, and been covered so quickly that he was never detected. It was heartbreaking.

A vicious storm it was.

EDIT:

P.S. I'm not sure whether partlycloudy's link above is for the correct storm. Seems to me that inland around about Worcester had heavier snowfall amounts than our coastal area -- closer to 30" as I recall. Partlycloudy indicates for "Jan 21" and the Blizzard of '78 was in mid-February. Hmmm?

P.P.S. Okay, I poked around a bit, and this is the storm that we call the Great Blizzard of '78: http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/projects/snowstorm/ Of course, this map only shows snowfall amounts, and doesn't reflect the hurricane force winds and associated snow drifting, storm surge along the coast, or duration of power outages.

I was surprised at the ranking of this storm both here and here. I have lived through many of the other storms ranked higher on those lists, and most paled by comparison.

I guess it depends on what criteria are used for ranking. If the main criteria is the extant and depth of widespread snow coverage, that is one thing. But if you were to include the windspeed and storm surge along the Massachusetts/Rhode Island/NH coastline in those affected areas, I think you'd have a different result. Similar to the difference of being within the path of a hurricane and not. If you're not in the hurricane, the storm doesn't seem so bad.
 

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partlycloudy,

Interesting stuff. Many of the snowfall events in those lists certainly exceed the depth and breadth of the storm which I'm calling the Blizzard of '78. Heck, even down here below the Mason-Dixon line where i live now, this past winter we had not one but THREE storms that rivaled it or exceeded it for snowfall totals.

But, most of the storms on those lists, and certainly the storms we had down here this past winter, were not blizzards. I don't know the exact parameters, but I recall there is a technical definition of "blizzard" that requires a certain amount of combined high wind and heavy snow for a minimum period of time, which many heavy snow fall events simply don't meet.

In the case of the Blizzard of '78 along the central New England coastline, the "blizzard" definition was exceeded in spades. As mentioned, the frigid temps, heavy snow, and at times hurricane force high winds were accompanied by a devastating storm surge, particularly along the North and South Shores of Massachusetts. I'm not trying to minimize other big snowstorms and blizzards that other folks endured, but I doubt many of those were accompanied by 15' storm surge and massive waves.

As I recall, much like the so-called "Perfect Storm", the Blizzard of '78 formed when two separate deep low pressure systems met and combined immediately off the NE coastline. I believe one had tracked across from the Great Lakes, and another had come up from off the Carolinas. But that's from memory and I was only a kid then.

Here is a link to some photos taken along the North Shore after the Blizzard. While you see a lot of damage there, in actual fact the effects of the storm were much worse along the South Shore, as the South Shore bore more squarely into the surge driven by the predominantly NE winds.

In the past one or two centuries, along the central coast of New England, the Blizzard of '78 was probably only exceeded by the Portland Gale of Nov. 1898. Now that was a storm to be reckoned with!!
 

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Had the ONLY 'clean to the blacktop' driveway in all of my town. Nothing else to do all day. Might as well get out and move some of the stuff by hand, 125 ft. 10 ft. wide.

Volunteered my 'antique' to the town, but they didn't want it. My gain.
 

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I lived thru the Blizzard of 78..it was THE worst storm I ever saw,and we have had about 3 that equalled the amount of snowfall we got then,but none compared to the winds and ferocity of the storm in 78!..

My dad worked at a LNG gas company,and as luck would have it,he was forced to drive a portable LNG gas vaporizer unit to a location the day it hit--it was on a trailer on the back of a C-60 Chevy bucket truck..usually his job was a supervisor of gas distribution and he travelled to several towns checking pressures at propane plants and unloading tanker trucks,but the guy who drove the truck was out sick (more like he said screw driving in THIS stuff and stayed home!)--so my dad ended up doing it,he was the only one with a CDL license...

He was going to a town west of Worcester ,from Brockton MA...he made it to Rt.128 in Framingham,and there he sat ,because the snow had started falling at rates of up to 3" an hour with 60 mph winds,and cars quickly bogged down in the drifts and he ended up being parked there for 16 hours,while he watched cars litteraly dissapear under the drifts!..it wasn't until the next day a state trooper riding in a National Gaurd duece and a half truck came to his rescue,and they piled 50+ people into the back of it with blankets,and brought them all to a hotel in Framingham...we didn't get word from him till the third day,as phones were out as well as the power,they only worked sparatically..

I was at my friends home in Fall River Ma,when it started snowing,and we had been listening to the weather forcasts and heard this was no storm to be out "playing" in..I had a 2wd 1956 Chevy 3100 truck at the time..my friends dad had a huge barrel full of brand new tire chains he got in trade for doing a chimmney job on a new house,so I asked him if I could use a pair,he said sure,take a couple sets in case you need them!..I spent a few hours putting them on my half bald bias ply snow tires..

I left my friends house after 4" had accumulated,but as I drove the 15 miles home at about 10 mph on the highway,I saw traffic at a standstill up ahead,so I got off at the first exit before the jam,and took the back roads home..it was very slow going,and my vaccuum windsheild wipers were a real pain,I had to stop every 3 miles and wipe the windsheild off!--those things SUCK!..I made it home,but the snow there was already a foot deep--I parked my truck at the bottom of the driveway,a dumb move--I should have backed it in,and left it right next to the street!...

Two days later when the snow finally stopped,we had 38" on the level,but drifts as high as the second story windows!..I had to crawl out the rear door of the garage where snow was "only" 3 feet deep--the front door and side door were completely obscured by drifts!..it took me and three of my neighbors from 9 am that day,till noon the next,to shovel away enough snow from the driveway to barely park a car without it sticking out into the street!..the town plows had piled it 6 feet high,before they were unable to move it any longer!--it was a very WET heavy snow too,that clogged snowblowers instantly,and even 4x4 trucks were stuck everywhere...my dad finally made it home a week after the day he'd left,the DPW gave him a ride in a loader all the way down Rt.128 back to Brockton to his work,where he picked up his '76 Torino wagon company car..he had them install chains and put 500 lbs of sandbags in it...he pulled into our "driveway" just minutes after a D-14 dozer had plowed the street,and we were scrambling to get the snow out they pushed back in!..I remember being VERY ticked off at my dad,when he reamed us out,saying is that ALL you could shovel in 3 frigging days??..:rolleyes:...I just said "yeah,your WELCOME!..

My truck had only the upper half of the cab from the windows up showing,the rest was buried..the gas company sent a guy with a C-60 and a plow to come plow our driveway so my dad could be able to get to any emergency calls,but it made it only 30 feet into the driveway before snow came up over the hood ,and it just spun its chained tires!--my dad freaked because the driveway was only 6 months old,and it ripped ALL theasphalt up right down to the gravel!..the next day I flagged down a front end loader that a guy was driving,who worked on our house when it was being built ,and he used it to move the snow,but he ended up hitting my truck with it!--didn't really hurt it though,I was screaming at him to STOP!..

My riend in Fall River showed up that night,on his Rupp 440 snowmobile,aliong with another friend on a Ski-Doo--they drove them right up Rt.24,which was still closed and full of cars covered with drifts..they said radio antennas was about all you could see of most of the cars...we spent the ext couple of days delivering food and medicine to eldery folks and we make a bundle of money,and shoveled a lot of cars and stairs out..

I even tried making a crude plow for my truck from 3 2x12's nailed together,and I bolted it to some thick angle iron I had and bolted the angle iron to the rear frame rails and the plow was in the rear,and with my friend riding in the bed,I could have him lift the blade with a 4x4 post cantilevered over the tailgate that was chained to the blade!..I "plowed" about 3 driveways with it before it was reduced to splinters,and I ended up backing over what was left of it...:D....I wish I had my 4x4 plow trucks back then,but I betI'd have blown the tranny on them in short order,even heavy equipment had a tough time moving that snow..they used tracked bulldozers from the National Gaurd to plow all the streets in town here,many still have dozer tracks in the pavement!...

The aftermath even weeks later was impressive...trying to drive was "fun",every road was only 12' wide or so,every time a car came the other way you risked hitting them,or getting stuck in the snowbanks...where exit ramps merged with the highway,snow was piled so high cars were completely "invisible",until they shot out in front of you at 65 mph!..:eek:..I read that 3500 cars were totaled in this storm just in southeast MA,and at least 60 people DIED...most from CO poisoning in cars left running trying not to freeze ..:(.. Now every time they say "snow",everyone flocks to the stores and wipes out ALL the bread,milk,and batteries!..but today we have much better forcasts,and snow removal equipment,it would have to be a pretty brutal storm to keep roads closed a whole week here ever again..

We had a 37" snowfall in 36 hours here on April Foold day,I think it was in 1997,and we have had several 2+ feet storms since,but none quite as nasty as the Blizzard of '78..I doubt we'll ever see one that bad again..though a few have come close..
 

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I just found this short slideshow, showing damage around the South Shore.

Bear in mind as you watch this, that most of the boats you see in the photos were already hauled out of the water and stored ashore for the winter:

Blizzard of '78 South Shore of Massachusetts
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)

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