The Worst Storms of All Time - Blizzard of 1978

The city of Boston in Massachusetts recorded heavy snowfall.
The city of Boston in Massachusetts recorded heavy snowfall.

A blizzard is a massive storm that comes with strong winds of up to 35 miles per hour. The United States experienced two unforgettable blizzards in 1978. The blizzards are classified as some of the worst storms in the US because they brought activities to a halt in the regions most affected. The first blizzard occurred in January of 1978 and mainly affected the Great Lakes region and the Ohio Valley. On February 5th, the second major blizzard took place. The three US states most affected by the second blizzard, known as the Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978, were Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Storm Formation

The Northeastern United States Blizzard began to form on the eve of February 5th, 1978. The next day, on a Monday morning, snow began to fall accompanied by strong winds. The snowstorm carried on throughout the day. On Tuesday morning, the snowstorm intensified. Meteorologists observed continuous snowfall for 32 hours straight in some areas. The city of Boston in Massachusetts recorded snowfall of 27.1 inches, Providence in Rhode Island recorded unprecedented levels of snow reaching 27.6 inches, and Atlantic City in New Jersey accumulated snow as high as 20.1 inches. Due to the record-breaking levels of snow in the affected areas, business activities in the cities came to a stop.

Storm Strength

The Blizzard of 1978 brought strong winds that moved at high speeds of up to 86 miles per hour and even stronger gusts at 111 miles per hour. While the average storm has snowfall for six to ten hours, the 1978 Blizzard had snow falling for more than 30 hours nonstop. The storm destroyed numerous structures including homes, power lines, telephone lines, and trees. Thunder and lightning also accompanied the snowstorm.

Effects of the Blizzard

The enormous storm in 1978 caused vast destruction and fatalities. One of the effects of the snowstorm was excessive flooding. In the Northeastern states, an estimated 100 people lost their lives. An additional 4,500 people suffered serious injuries. Regarding economic loss, an estimated $520 million was lost by businesses and individuals. Countless people were left homeless after the storm. There was extremely low visibility on the roads and more than 3,500 vehicles were buried under the ice on the roads, driveways, and at parking lots. The state of Massachusetts banned vehicles on the road for a week. Airports in the region were shut down due to the massive snowstorm. Spectators at an ice hockey match in Boston were left stranded at the stadium for days when the tournament was halted due to the bad weather. In New York City, schools remained closed for the period of the storm. The storms also destroyed many fishing vessels.

Aftermath of the Storm

The damage on roads and power lines left most residents without power, water, and food. Approximately 10,000 people had to move into help centers for aid. The United States National Guard helped in clearing the snow-covered roads. The Red Cross helped with distribution of food and other basic amenities in the affected areas. The military also played an essential part in the recovery process.


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