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Blizzard of ’78: Where Were You 34 Years Ago Today?

Nearly three decades ago we were blanketed with 27 inches of snow.


It’s hard to believe it’s been 34 years since Massachusetts was hit with the Blizzard of '78, but the stories will withstand the test of time.

On Feb. 6, 1978, the area was blanketed with a record 27 inches of snow with the added bonus of hurricane force winds. The storm began the morning of Feb. 6 and lasted through the following evening. It was a storm that was never really predicted to be this large, and yet from it one good thing came – we learned about emergency preparedness.

The snow came down so quickly (at a rate of an inch an hour) thousands of motorists were stranded in snowdrifts as they drove down Rte. 128. Roads throughout the state were impassible and cars were abandoned at every turn.

For those of us who were old enough to remember, the memories differ. The motorist stuck in his car for hours on the highway, the family wondering where that person was, to a community paralyzed by Mother Nature in a storm no one ever expected. 

As a young girl I remember climbing seven foot snow piles while my parents shoveled and plowed our driveway so we could get out of the house. I remember, walking from Dedham’s Oakdale Square, down to the Rte. 128 rotary with my family and neighbors pulling children on sleds. We crossed over the highway and I remember seeing the graveyard of cars sitting on the highway, just frozen there, covered in snow. We were walking to in Westwood, the only store open in the area for milk bread and anything else we needed while the Commonwealth was in a state of emergency. 

As a child it was almost magical because we didn't understand the danger. Our parents shielded us from the chaos and we didn't know people lost their lives in that storm. Looking back as an adult, it's terrifying how unprepared we were for this event. 

Thirty-four years ago we had 27 inches of snow. Today, the forecast is saying temps will be in the 50s. I’ll take the 50-degree temps over what happened here a little more than three decades ago.

Cheryl Allen February 06, 2012 at 03:07 PM
My husband and I had been living in Lexington for only six months when the blizzard arrived. I am a nurse and at that time I was working in.Somerville. Since there was a driving ban, arrangements were made for the local police to transport me and other medical workers to their jobs. The Lexington police drove me to the Arlington town line where I transferred to an Arlington police vehicle and then at the Somerville line the Somerville police finally got me to my job. I was also pregnant with our first child at the time. Certainly lots of memories I will not forget.
Joe Deveau February 06, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I was plowing snow with a front end loader for my friend. I was working midnight to noon and he was working noon to midnight. We used my van to get back and forth to Wellington station and Malden Square station. Had to keep the registration in the van to show police we were working. When going from one station to the next I dug out many peoples driveways with were over six feet of snow at the street. Never forget it. My son was 1 and is now 35..
Pat Power February 06, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Joe my son was born on the 5th we got to see him a week later! 34 yrs no I can close my eyes and still see the snow and the new rt. 93 in Somerville!
Richard Mullen February 06, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I was on Rte 128 in Needham heading to Waltham a 10 minute drivve that took about 4 1/2 hours --Lucky to grt home at all !!
Carol Intravaia Austin February 06, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I was a Senior at Belmont High School which usually means you get out of school a little bit before everyone else, but because of the Blizzard we had to make up the week of missed school! Neeless to say, the entire Class of BHS '78 was none too thrilled! During that week off from school some businesses were allowed to open, the Star Market in Cambridge opened but allowed each customer to purchase only one milk, one loaf of bread, canned goods etc. due to very low suppliles. My father, grandfather and I got out my old wooden sled and a few bungee cords and walked to the "Star" and waited in the very long lines to make our purchases. It was very surreal being able to walk in the middle of the streets where the electirc buses were replace by families finally getting out to witness the massive piles of snow. To this day when I seee an old wooden sled I can visualize our brown paper "Star" bags bungeed to my sled and it brings the Blizzard of '78 right back to mind.
betsey ansin February 06, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Letting my mind escape ahead to the following annual July 4 pool party I ran in my backyard, I had about 30 tee shirts individualized with a person's name and "I survived the Blizzard of 78". At that time I was stuck, along with zillions of other people, at home with four restless kids. Great for them that school was out and after the wind died down it was incredible seeing the vast drifts of snow and venturing out and even building "igloos". However for those four or five days, as the kids became increasingly restive - and, I must add, while their father was "stuck' in Boston with some BigWig Politicians (one of whom had a famous photo taken with him wearing a heavy sweater) - it became a bit crazy!!!! Rumors of hundreds being trapped on 128 turned out to be untrue. But certainly it was a once in a lifetime experience!
Phil Vinal February 06, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I was a school kid in Gloucester. I remember massive flooding. Some folks lost their homes. Parts of town became inaccessible. They called in the National Guard to protect against looting. We missed school for 10 days I think. It took years for people to rebuild their homes. Some never did. They just left. It was a disaster for coastal communities.
C Field February 06, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I was a college kid, from SC, so it was an eye-opening experience. My campus ran out of food and had a breakout of the flu. At the end of the week, friend and I ended up walking the 16 miles into Cambridge where my brother was in school. Every time I drive up Memorial Drive, I remember the day we walked up the middle of the street at the end of the journey. It was surreal.
Bobby February 06, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Was on Police Patrol in Mansfield in a snow mobil and a 4 wheel drive pick up with chains,bringing nurses from town border to other towns to get them to work.
Bobby February 06, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Dick Staples running down Rte 106 with a d-8 dozer pushing snow.
Joan February 06, 2012 at 10:06 PM
My husband traveled with difficulty, but successfully, from Providence to Swansea until he arrived at our driveway. All attempts to get the car from the street into the driveway failed until we tried using our doorway WELCOME MAT under one of the rear tires. The car zoomed into the driveway, the MAT went into orbit and we never found it again, even after all the snow had melted. Joan
andrew james February 06, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I was living in Cambridge in a three story apt. building on the Cambridge /Arlington line. We were on the 1st floor and the snow was over my windowsill......cars buried....sking on the street.....sleds everywhere, dogs bouncing around, children and adults alike laughing and enjoying........no work for a week due to the driving ban.....I knew there were a lot of people in trouble but for me it was a well needed interlude........a surprise vacation I'll never forget
Brenda Crawshaw February 07, 2012 at 12:57 AM
I cannot BELIEVE it's been 34 years! My mom and I were the very last people to make it down and off 295 in Cumberland, RI and the ride from there to home - about two miles - took almost an hour and it was only due to my Mom's exceptionally skilled driving - hey, she's a native New Englander! - we were able to get almost all the way to our house. I will never forget my dad coming out of the house in disbelief, wrapping his arms around us both, on the verge of tears, so happy to see us intact. Cumberland, RI got some of the most accumulation in the area and I distinctly remember shoveling the front walk took several days because the snow was over our heads. We snow hiked to the supermarket about two miles away to forage and toboggoned home with our "goods" bungee corded to the toboggon...... We were out of school for almost two weeks and by the end of that time we were READY to go back to school. The second Blizzard Miracle was that my brothers and I didn't kill each other!
x February 07, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I was up with the Donner Party in the pass between Nevada and California. We got awful hungry. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
Carrie Alves Fredette February 07, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Carrie Alves Fredette I was looking out the window of my Grams house in Seekonk, Mass. I was only 7 years old and my mom was taken away by helicopter to Women and Infants Hospital to have a baby. I had no idea if I would have a sister or a brother.My Dad was an over the road truck driver, and when he found out my mom was in labor he had to make his way from Virginia to Mass.He drove as far as he could and then had to walk.He stayed at a church along the way,a diner where policeman told him to stay put(he didn't)and found a car along the way and got it started and drove with a salesman to his destination.On February 8th,1978 my beautiful sister was born!!Christen Alves Farias-love you sis
Kate C. February 07, 2012 at 04:23 AM
I was a fifth-grader in Worcester and I remember going to school the morning the snow started - even by Mass. standards, Worcester was brutal about not cancelling school for snow, but then again only a few inches were expected. School was cancelled later that evening for the next day, then the next night it was cancelled for the following day, then the powers-that-be got real and announced there'd be no school for the rest of the week and the entire following week, which was then followed by February vacation week - I still remember clearly where I was when I heard we'd be out of school for more than two weeks. I don't think we lost power, and nobody we knew was hurt or stranded. I had five older brothers plus two sisters so my mother always had huge amounts of food & milk in a spare fridge, vast pantry, and chest freezer anyway, and there were plenty of hands for shovelling. She kept us outside a lot, and I recall my brother and I baking a lot of cakes and cookies. When my husband & I moved to Concord recently from a townhouse in Washington DC, an early purchase was a chest freezer for the basement, 'cause you never know...!
Stefanie Cloutier February 07, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I was in the basement rec room of my best friend Rob's house, listening to records, not paying attention to the snow. Spent the next three days there, before the police would let me drive back to my house. My mother was not too happy, as she was stuck at home with my three younger sibs. We also missed the week of school, but as seniors, never had to make it up :) Ah, blizzards! Fun to be a kid...
Adeld Chang February 07, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Living in lexington. In 2nd grade, dressed in my brownies uniform getting ready to head to school but no school for a week. Bought sleeping bags for each of us and a coleman stove. No heat and no electricity for 5 days. I still have that same sleeping bag. Used it for amny things and it has taken many beatings and still in perfect condition.
cheryl duddy schoenfeld February 07, 2012 at 03:15 PM
My husband (fiancée) at the time were at the Beanpot with my sister and friends watching our beloved BC Eagles being crushed by BU. my sister and her friends made the last train leaving North Station to Waltham. The rest of us decided to stay and watch the game. We made it back to Newton in a friend's jeep. I ended up staying in Newton at the home of my future in-laws'. They were gracious and kind. I finally made it home under cover of darkness the following weekend. My Father was stuck on the road and made it to a hotel where he slept on the lobby floor. My mother was home with five children and kept them busy outside building snowmen. It was memorable for the scrabble and monopoly games, the hot chocolate and talking with the neighbors beside snow piles that seemed to reach the sky. All in all it was a pretty good experience
Pat Haynes February 07, 2012 at 05:05 PM
My sister and I were living in Farmington NH at the time,,We received word my uncle had passed away,,My parents who lived in Danvers, said,"stay put, a big storm was coming." Well we packed our things into my sisters 2 seater TR7 sportscar and headed to Mass,,I was driving..Bright sunny day until we hit the Hampton Toll Booth,,,The storm was right there,Normaly Danvers was a good 1hour and 20 minute ride , not today.. After 1 360 I pulled over and said,"your car you can drive" We made it home,,needless to say half my family was stuck on the highway after the wake,we didnt go,,, A long week, my dad was hospital personal so the army picked him up every morning. My sister a history teacher was under suponea from a NH court because one of her students had stabbed another teenager and he died , and she was a character witness.. The State Police said, "stay where you are" The ban on driving was still on, but after a few days,, we got back in the yellow , TR7 and headed back up north,,We were the only ones on the road... We got to our house in NH and our mailman was so excited to see us , he just followed us in asking us all about the "Big Blizzard" Farmington had received no snow at all....
Bill Palmer February 07, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Can people stop saying we had 27 inches...the only place that got only 27 inches was logan airport...we had two big storms before, so the roads were already banked at 5-10 feet when it started....we had 3 feet in Westwood when my dad got home...we shoveled him into the driveway...took us an hour to reach the street alone....when he pulled in,the part by our house had another 4 inches..then it snowed all night...we got at least five feet..hard to tell with the wind
Debbie Anastas February 07, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I was a senior at Needham High School, living in Needham Heights. We walked down to the Kendrick Street overpass to see the mess on Rt 128. The whole family walked to Stop and Shop (which is now Sudbury farms) and dragged home groceries on our sleds. So many of the roads around town were so narrow, they were one-way for weeks.
Dianna DiGregorio February 10, 2012 at 02:59 PM
We got married on February 4, the day after the first of the big storms. Driving to the church we hit a patch of ice and hit a snowbank. We were worried guests would have trouble driving to the wedding and everyone arrived safely. We honeymooned in Reading, VT. Sunday night was the next big storm. On Monday we called the caretaker to plow us out, however his plow could not handle all the snow. He came back the next day with a dozer. We went skiing for the rest of the week and had no problem travelling. We were worried driving home because of the state of emergency which banned people from driving on the highways. We took a chance and made it home with no problems.
Magellan February 11, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I remember that when it finally stopped snowing my children wanted to go outside, but since we couldn't open the doors because of the snowdrifts, they crawled out the dining room window. It was sooo quiet...I remember the only noise was the Governor's helicopter flying over.
robbinsfarm March 25, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I was in the Boston Garden for the Beanpot !!! We took the Red Line over the Longfellow bridge but boy was it slow !!! The last train behind use got stuck so we waited in Harvard Square till 4AM for the bus ride up Mass Ave. I will never forget that night !!!!
Susan Daley February 01, 2013 at 09:23 PM
I was living in Waltham and working at Brandeis at that time. I left work early and got a ride to South St, and had to walk home from there. When I got home I found out that there was no transportation to get my three yr old home from daycare. I walked up to Main St., picked him up, and carried him home. It took hours! I was never so glad to be home in my entire life with everyone safe and sound.
andrea dunn February 08, 2013 at 02:54 AM
I was living in Seekonk, in junior high. We had no heat for days, so we ate by the fire in the fireplace..all the kids were out of school, stuffed into snowsuits and sent out once the snow cleared. I remember feeling like we were camping indoors because of the fire and the disruption in our tight Yankee routine... We had a giant pile of snow at the end of our street that did not completely melt until spring - it was there for months.
Amanda February 09, 2013 at 04:15 AM
My dad just told me an awesome story about 21 people and a keg in an igloo in Massachusetts during the 1978 blizzard.... Best dad ever lol
cheryl cuzziere February 17, 2013 at 06:55 PM
I had just turned 12 when this happened. I was so excited and scared no school for weeks and then Feb vacation.
Avon Barksdale February 17, 2013 at 08:31 PM
We never did find grandma.


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