Blizzard of 1978

February 9, 2012
By

This week marks the 34th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1978.

For those too young to remember it, this was the mother of all New England storms, the blizzard of a lifetime for those of us who lived through it and who experienced its might.

What are referred to as blizzards by meteorologists today don’t measure up to the standard set by the Blizzard of 1978.

In fact, the repeated labeling of rather common snow storms as blizzards during the past three decades marginalizes the Blizzard of 1978’s colossal impact on this neighborhood, the city of Boston, the state of Massachusetts and all of New England.

Charlestown was absolutely, positively buried by snow drifts that in some cases went up to second floor window ledges.

The wind shook brick buildings and pounded windows. It reached over 100 miles an hour. The snowfall was prodigious. It fell at a rate of three inches an hour for almost 12 hours.  The highest tides ever, a full moon and temperatures that went below zero is an almost indescribable accumulation of natural factors that made the Blizzard of 1978 so memorable.

Charlestown was buried by the snow, many feet of it in some places with every square inch covered.

Cars were not just buried where they were parked. They remained buried for weeks, some for months, so great was the snow covering them that it was near to impossible to dig them out.

For more than a week, Charlestown’s major roads and side streets were impassable, causing this neighborhood to be a winter wonderland for our children – who had never experienced such a storm.

Schools were closed for longer than a week.

Police and fire rescue personnel rode around on snowmobiles, which were the only vehicles short of National Guard half-tracks that were able to get around.

Above all, it was a moment in time when the people of this neighborhood came together to get through the experience of nearly everything shut down and with most stores out of stock.

For some of us that storm seems like yesterday.

If you didn’t live through it, it is impossible to understand its impact after all these years.