SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – The Blizzard of 1978 is still a vivid memory for many Massachusetts residents.
“We were pretty much housebound; at the time we had a new baby,” Michael Lastoria, who lived in Abington, Massachusetts at the time of the blizzard, told 22News.
Forty-one years ago Springfield was buried under nearly 21 inches of snow. But that was still on the low end compared to some of the snowfall amounts in the eastern portion of the state. Areas east of Worcester stretching toward Boston were inundated under 24 to 36 inches of heavy, wet snow. Strong winds caused white-out conditions, making travel near-impossible. Cars were stuck on Route 128, transforming the highway into a parking lot. Over 3,000 vehicles were caught in the snow there, making plowing difficult. As a result of the blizzard, 73 people died in the Commonwealth, and damages were estimated at $500 million.
“Finally we dug our way out. And uh me and my next door neighbor, drove around the neighborhood, asking people if they needed anything. And went to the market again to stock up on whatever we could find,” Lastoria explained.
Now it’s likely that if a storm of that magnitude was to hit today, the impacts would be very different.
A lot has changed since 1978, including major improvements in the accuracy of forecasting, communication technology, and plowing and road-treatment equipment.
Part of the reason snowfall amounts were so high is because the storm system stalled over New England, and the ocean was also unusually warm, fueling the blizzard with moisture.