Blizzard of ’78 Journal Excerpts

In February 1978, I was living with my parents in an apartment off Mammoth Road in Dracut. We and the neighbors rode out the historic blizzard as best as we could. We monitored events on the radio and TV. I kept a journal in those days and made notes about the storm. Below are excerpts as well as a few watercolored drawings I made of scenes outside my bedroom window—the heavy equipment operators plowing the parking lot. — PM

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2/7/78 Still snowing, blowing, growing drifts, flowing shapes like beach dunes, gusts of wicked whipping wind against the window with each speckling spray . . . .

2/7 3.50 p.m. Still snowing hard—more than 24 hours of snow now. Near 2 feet. The drifts in back of the apartments are a good 8 feet high.

2/7 Governor orders state of emergency thru tomorrow. Massachusetts has been declared a federal disaster zone. Army equipment and troops are coming to help. Records show that in February, 1717, 10 to 20 feet of snow fell. People tunneled between houses.

2/8 Second day of the state of emergency—no cars allowed on the roads east of Worcester unless they are fire-police-health-snow removal vehicles—only emergency services workers can try to get to their workplaces. If the runways at Logan Airport get cleared today, then the federal army units from Fort Bragg, N.C., will land C-130 transport planes full of bulldozers, front-end loaders, and men. From Buffalo, N.Y., 75 pieces of snow-fighting equipment are being sent to Providence, R.I.  . . . .

2/8 Officials estimate that there are 2,000 cars stuck and abandoned on Route 128, and thousands more on other roadways. People stranded in Boston will have to spend a third night there, some of them sleeping in the showrooms of bedroom furniture stores—28 people died in storm-related situations, mostly from heart attacks—last night the army units from Fort Devens formed a convoy to get to Boston but there are so many abandoned cars on Route 2 that the trucks were blocked—The Governor will take a helicopter tour of the storm scene today—about 100 looters have been arrested, with bail set at $100,000—the National Guard has arrest power . . . the weather forecast for the rest of the week calls for clear skies . . . .

2/8 Ocean water 3 feet deep between the houses on the coast, in an alley a fire fighter carries a boy out piggyback, chunks of ice floating in the salt water flooding the streets—army trucks, amphibious ducks rescuing people from flooded houses—one guy said he got good service because the duck came to his door—after 2 days the phones are ringing in search of missing people—2 ships aground in Salem Harbor, Plum Island under water yesterday . . . 2 feet of snow in the Monadnock region of N.H., New Jersey boardwalk torn up—a blizzard is a hurricane with snow—stay home, stay off the streets is the message on TV . . . .

One thought on “Blizzard of ’78 Journal Excerpts”

  1. Here’s a reader comment about the Blizzard of ’78 that I received by email:

    Loved your blog on the Blizzard of ’78 – memories. I lived in Brockton then and remember walking to West Junior High School on Feb 6, 1978 (because my family was clueless), 1.3 miles and finding out school was closed and having to walk back. My pants were soaked up to the thighs. It was memorable. You inspired me to see if I can find any journals from that time to see what I wrote. Awesome tractor/plow drawings – these would make for an awesome children’s book illustration, they’re very good.

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