35 years later: Many in Mass. remember blizzard of '78

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February 5, 2013, 6:14 pm
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(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) - It was 35 years ago this week that the blizzard of 1978 hit, dumping more than 20 inches of snow in Worcester, Mass.

Highways and streets alike were left clogged with abandoned, snow-covered vehicles and it was many days before community life returned to normal.

It’s the calm before the storm; 35 years ago today, news of a big snow storm had made its way to Massachusetts, but no one was prepared for how big it would be.

“I think we all just thought, ‘we live in New England, it's a storm, we'll deal with it one way or another,’ but it was a little more than we bargained for,” says former Northbridge Fire Chief Cornelius Madigan.

He was fire chief in Northbridge in 1978. Madigan says he will always remember working through the blizzard.

“I'll never forget it. It was paralyzing. Visibility was so poor you couldn't see more than two inches in front of your car.”

Madigan isn't alone. Memories of the storm are still fresh in the minds of many people who lived through it.

“We probably had snow about 5-feet high in our driveway and it was unbelievable,” says Ellen Parsons.

“People didn't take the weather men seriously and it was another perfect storm and snowed for over 36 hours,” says Jan Seymour of the Worcester Historical Society.

She says the storm hit Worcester hard. Seymour says one reason was because most people went to work despite the forecast.

“It was the fact there were so many cars on the road that they really compounded the problem,” she says.

The museum holds more than half a million images and documents in its archives, but these are the only three they have of the blizzard of ‘78.

They are urging people to bring in pictures or videos of events like the blizzard and Worcester tornado.

“We clearly can see recent history is something people don't understand, we'd really like to see.”

Madigan says while we've had snow storms since, all are compared to and none measure up to the blizzard of ‘78.

“In ‘78, it came all at once.”

Tags: weather, snow, Katelyn Tivnan, jan seymour, worcester massachusetts, blizzard of 78, northbridge fire chief, cornelius madigan, worcester historical society, ellen parsons
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