Boston Remembers the Blizzard of 1978

Share photos and memories on the 35th anniversary of this major winter storm.




The snowfall in Boston so far this winter has been minimal, but 35 years ago it was a much different story.

On Feb. 6, 1978, the Boston area, along with much of Massachusetts, saw a record 27 inches of snow fall, 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 so large, and yet from it one good thing came—we learned about emergency preparedness.

The snow came down so quickly (at a rate of one inch an hour) that thousands of motorists were stranded in snowdrifts as they drove down Route 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 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. 

Patch 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 tell us your stories in the comments section.  

Editorial note: this article and the comments section are shared with the North End, Fenway-Kenmore, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Jamaica Plain, South End, West Roxbury and Roslindale Patch.com sites. 

Jeff February 05, 2013 at 05:10 PM
i wish.
MarkBoston February 05, 2013 at 06:44 PM
I was staying overnight with a friend who lived in an apt that had it's only entrance being One Door opening outward onto the alley behind Newburry St. The window had bars on them . We had no power and the phone lines were down . We had to yell out the window for help from passers by who were cross country skiing down the alley ! I remember when we got out we walked down Newburry st where I ended up stubbing My boot on a rock ( I thought ) when i began chipping away at the snow around it I realized it was the TOP of a parking meeter ! The city was in complete lock down mode . The troops were brought in . The Only nightlife we found was "Sporters" a gay dance club on Beacon hill. It had two separate front doors .. Someone had backed up their Van to one door and was playing their eight track and the bar was full of candle light . What wonderful memories . Folks were actually friendlly to each other in Boston for a few days ...
Sara Jacobi February 05, 2013 at 06:56 PM
That's a great story, Mark. Thanks for sharing!
Peggy February 06, 2013 at 04:14 AM
I lived in J.P. at the time. So many people became good friends-asking and giving food if anyone needed something! What a time of hospitality!
Peggy February 06, 2013 at 04:38 AM
Now my brain woke up! National Guard was the only traffic on main roads, Side streets had no traffic at all and the kids loved IT. No school LOL! Then parents and kids had Feb. vacation! Snow forts were made by the kids and plenty of wet clothes. I still have the Globe where all the cars had been stranded on Route 128. My sisters in Roslindale lost power and the big snow plow had them in the shovel to get them to Rossy Square so they could get milk for the kids! Whew, that's a mind blower! Who said "whatever doesn't kill ya makes you stronger" was so right! Thank God we haven't seen a storm that bad again!
TheMaskedTruthsayer February 06, 2013 at 01:13 PM
I remember the food shortages and the lack of heat and the loss of electricity. The roads were impassible and there were rumors of cannibilism...oh, sorry, that was Stalingrad. The Dukes white sweater, yeah, that's it, the Dukes white sweater and the Duckboats.
Kathy Ryder February 07, 2013 at 01:38 PM
I remember all of the people burning what we could find in metal trash can on the street and everone just shoveling together. I also remember watching the fire on Wa shington street. Our friends lived with us for about a week because of that fire. I also remember walking with my parents to the nearest grocery store to get milk an d bread for any one who needed it.
Anonymous-Boston February 07, 2013 at 11:43 PM
I remember coming home from Navy boot camp, located in Illinois, just off the lake, where it gets as cold as 60 below with the windchill. I saw all the huge piles of snow and understood why my mom and my girlfriend couldn't make my graduation. They had been snowed in.
Richard McDonough February 08, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Lived on Centre at Ballard in the old white house where I wrested a sledge hammer from a lad unhappy with busing and the Globe, whose latter's news box was to be demolished at his hand. The military earthmovers cleared the street and repeatedly filled in our drive. Warnings by soldiers to take it easy at shoveling fell on proud deaf ears. People in Boston get friendly at such moments but manage to quickly overcome that alien feeling.
Elizabeth Rowe February 08, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Wow, what a totally different experience! I was in college and we hadn't yet started the spring term so there we were, hundreds of kids with no reading to do or papers to write. Harvard closed for the first time in 40 years and there was a state of emergency. All the university employees stayed home and we amused ourselves rumbling around in the tunnels under the Houses looking for peanut butter and ice cream. Two friends and I took garbage cans into the Harvard stadium and then rolled them down to create a smooth lane from the announcer's booth out onto the field. And the we shot down using lunch trays as sleds. It was only later that I learned how really horrible the storm had been for most people and that was heartbreaking. But you know what? It was still an excellent, excellent adventure!


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