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

Nearly three decades ago we were blanketed with 27 inches of snow. What do you remember about that memorable storm?


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.

Related Topics: Blizzard of '78 We would love to hear your stories from the Blizzard of '78 and see your photos. You can upload your photos directly to our image gallery and share with us your memories and stories of the big storm.

Related Topics: Blizzard of 1978

David E. Bowden February 08, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I sat at the dispatch desk at Fire HQD.on Newman from 6:30PM Monday thru to Friday of that week dispatching Fire Dept. vehicles including snow mobiles.Fire did it's own due to the heavy load the Police had to deal with at the time.Rescue patients were air lifted from East Providence after rescue got them to Pawtucket Ave.Seekonk folks were able to get around much sooner than any one else.
joann cushing February 12, 2012 at 07:14 PM
i remember taking a walk with my father and as we walked i looked down to see the yellow line in the middle of the street.we walked from our house in attleboro ma. to where my father worked in pawtucket ri. i also remember walking with the family next door pulling a sled to the store. on the way there the 2 small kids road in the sled to the store. on the way back we put the kids in my lap and the food in theres and sled down the street to the house.
Lauren Walsh February 13, 2012 at 01:10 AM
I spent 3 days working and sleeping at Roger Williams Hospital. Helicopters were bringing patients in by landing on a cleared area in the front parking lot... when we walked out on Chalkstone Ave, our feet were at car door handle level. Finally, my husband was able to get his snowmobile to the hospital to pick me up.....the ride home to Rehoboth was just beautiful!!!!
Steve Hopkins February 13, 2012 at 02:25 AM
I skied in to RI Hospital on my cross-country skis to go to work in the ER. I was an ER Tech. Went the Rumford, over the Red Bridge, thru the East Side and down College Hill! there were only snowmobile trails through the east side. Some RISD kids had built up a ski jump out of snow on lower part Angell St! Not a good idea to try that with Xcountry skis!! Stayed for 3 days, sleeping where ever I could find an empty stretcher away from the activity. Even skied down RT 95 a bit - that was 'cool'!
Jerry Chase February 11, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I thought that The Sun Chronicle eventually printed the 'official' tally at 34" in Attleboro . . . . with more in Wrentham . . . and Woonsocket. Since two of these three posters here worked in R. I., does anyone else remember that, at some point, R. I. was placed under federal martial law . . for a few days ? ?


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