Monday, Feb 5 marked the 40th Anniversary of when the Blizzard of 78 formed over the Northeast. Over the next two days, snow, wind, white out conditions and coastal flooding caused more than $520 million ($1.95 billion in todays money) in damage and left motorist stranded on highways, hockey fans trapped in the Boston Garden and East Boston residents forced to stay indoors for several days as snow drifts reached the second floors of most triple-deckers.
With most blizzards lasting six to twelve hours, heavy snow fell for an unprecedented full 33 hours as it was blocked from heading into the North Atlantic by a strong Canadian high pressure area.
Boston received a record breaking 27.1 inches of snow.
The storm took many by surprise due to poor weather forecasting at the time and most people being skeptical of Northeast forecasters. The storm killed about 100 people in the Northeast and injured about 4,500.
In Eastie, the storm, for the most part brought the best out in people as neighbors helped one another and looked out for one another during and after the storm.
However, there was one truly frightening incident that occurred as the storm was breaking up on Feb. 7.
Longtime Eastie resident Blossom Hoag awoke to a stranger at the foot of her bed after spending the day skiing around Jeffries Point with her children and enjoying the aftermath of the storm. The stranger held a knife to Hoag’s throat and told her husband he would ‘cut her up’ if he didn’t listen to his demands.
According to publications at the time like the East Boston Community News, police efforts were severely hindered at the time due to the storm. District 7 Police reported at the time they were receiving four calls throughout the duration of the storm and, like most resident, police cars were stuck and unable to move around the neighborhood until the streets were cleared days later.
Photo of East Boston teens shoveling out a stretch of Saratoga Street in Eagle Hill following the Blizzard of 78. (photo courtesy of Madhu David Bell)
Paul W Riggi took this photo looking down Morris Street towards Marion Street from the corner of Morris and Brooks Streets after the Blizzard of 78. (photo courtesy of Paul W. Riggi).