While weather forecasting had improved by the late 1970’s, many people still believed that the forecasts were inaccurate most of the time. The day before the blizzard started, most people believed that it wouldn’t turn out to be that big of a problem. Workers and students went about their day like it was a normal Monday and when the snow started later than anticipated, many people thought it was just another inaccurate forecast.
According to the then Boston Herald American, “Snow started accumulating around Boston at about 8 o’clock. The National Weather Service revised its prediction and now said we would get from eight to 16 inches”. The NWS would also issue a special advisory for Massachusetts that said, “This is, and remains, a very dangerous storm. Do not venture out unless absolutely necessary. Listen to and heed the advice of your local officials”.
Things started to go from bad to worse rather quickly. By early afternoon, workers were trying to make their way home from work. Due to the unpreparedness for how bad this storm was going to be, thousands of people’s cars would end up stranded on highways and major roadways. On Route 128 alone 3,000 cars and 100 trucks would be left abandoned. Boston finally declared a snow emergency at 4 p.m. It was around this time when the NWS would revise its forecast again to 12 to 18 inches, and would start referring to the storm as a blizzard. A State of Emergency would be declared by Governor Dukakis later on that night. The storm was still raging on Tuesday morning. Schools and businesses were ordered to close while everyone was urged to stay home. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut were declared disaster areas by President Jimmy Carter on Tuesday night.
The last of the storm finally tapered off around Wednesday morning. When all was said and done, the Boston area received a whopping 27 inches. The damage around the state was devastating and clean up would take weeks, if not months in some areas. The Blizzard of 78 would stay on record as the biggest snowstorm ever recorded in Massachusetts until February 17-18, 2013 storm where we received 27.6 inches.
- Keller, Mitch. “Chronology of the Storm”. The Boston Herald American. Storm Souvenir Edition, 9 February, 1978, pgs. 2-3
- Photographs are from The Radiator (Somerville High School Yearbook), 1978.