Blizzard of '78 Numbers Still Devastating, Unsurpassed

With “historic” levels of snow predicted by some local meteorologists for Friday and Saturday, it is natural to look back at an unforgettable February snowfall in the state 35 years ago this week.  The Blizzard of ’78 is legendary not only in the amount and intensity of the snow and wind, but in other impacts as well, including coastal high tides and damage to homes and property, and even politics – it is seen as central to the re-election later that year of Gov78ernor Ella Grasso. Just a year ago, Connecticut Public Television aired a new documentary about the Blizzard of ’78, which included these statistics not soon forgotten by those in the state at the time:

  • 30 inches of snow
  • 70 mile per hour winds
  • 5,000 people stranded
  • 16 foot snowdrifts
  • Air and rail traffic were shut down amidst 3 days of snow
  • Snowfall as high as 4 inches per hour
  • 1,200 cars towed from state highways and thousands stuck on secondary roads

A retrospective published in The Hartford Courant adds these statistics:

  • More than $25 million in damage
  • A contingent of 547 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas,   flew to Connecticut to help National Guard crews with snow removal and clean up
  • Mail delivery ceased for the first time in 40 years
  • Gov. Grasso shut down the state for three days, and President Carter  declared Connecticut, Rhode Island and  Massachusetts federal disaster areas.

It was a storm for the ages, the likes of which Connecticut has not seen in more than three decades.  We’ll see what this weekend brings.