The Blizzard Of 1978: Remembering The Storm 40 Years Later

Blizzard of 1978 Cars on Rt 128 S Needham, Mass (Credit: Jim McDevitt Photographer. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/ National Archives and Records Administration)

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on the Blizzard of 1978--read part 2 here.

BOSTON, MA (WBZ-AM) -- It snowed for 34 hours and 40 minutes, from February 6-7 of that year. Winds reached hurricane force.  

Tides surged 15 feet above normal. Twenty-nine deaths were attributed to the weather conditions. WBZ Newsman Gary LaPierre was broadcasting the morning news when the blizzard hit. 

"It's not going to be a three- or four-day affair," he told his audience. 

He was right. Fast forward 40 years, and the memories quickly return. Shoppers at an Allston supermarket can easily recall what they remember most.  

"I remember walking outside as a child with snow over my head," said one shopper. 

"If your car was out in the parking lot, you couldn't tell which lump it was," said another. 

David Maclean, now Operations Manager for Market Basket, was 19 and working as a clerk in the Market Basket store in Billerica.

"I remember people coming in on their snowmobiles up to the store, and saying, hey, can I pick up some milk or bread?" he recalls. 

Michael Goldman headed up communications with the Metropolitan District Commission and he did not leave his office for seven days. 

He says no one today can imagine how unprepared the state was to handle a storm of this magnitude, and points to the current state emergency headquarters, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, as just one example.  

"You couldn't get out to Framingham and if you went out there, nothing worked. No one had really been in the bunker since the Korean War," said Goldman.

Steve Nazro was Beanpot Tournament Director at Boston Garden at that time and did not cancel the games when the blizzard moved in.  

Why not? 

"Well, because it was New England and hockey fans are very resilient," Nazaro said. 

Roughly 100 spectators ended up spending the night inside.

"There were dozens of poker games going on and everyone was so relaxed," he recalls. 

But there were lessons learned--and those will be the subject of Part 2 of this retrospective series, as well as the question, "Which was worse--the Blizzard of '78, or the winter of 2015?"

Read part 2 here.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mary Blake reports

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