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Photos: On this day – February 7, 1978 – “The Blizzard of 1978″

Posted Feb 07, 2013

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On this day – February 7, 1978 – “The Blizzard of 1978″

The Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978 was a catastrophic and historic nor’easter that brought blizzard conditions to the New England region of the United States, New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area. Snowfall occurred primarily between Monday morning, February 6 and the evening of Tuesday, February 7. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts were particularly hard hit by this storm.

Boston received a record 27.1 inches of snow; Providence, Rhode Island, also broke a record, with 27.6 inches of snow; Atlantic City broke an all-time storm accumulation with 20.1 inches. Nearly all economic activity was disrupted in the worst-hit areas. The storm killed approximately 100 people in the Northeast and injured around 4,500. The storm also caused over US$520 million (US$1.85 billion in present terms) in damage.

The storm was formed from an extra-tropical cyclone off the coast of South Carolina on February 5. An Arctic cold front and a cold air mass then merged with the storm, creating the perfect ingredients for a large and intense low-pressure system. This storm system made its way up the coast, and approached southern New England late February 6 and early February 7. Since the storm developed during a new moon, an unusually large high tide occurred, and the storm brought a massive amount of water along coastal communities. The huge storm surge resulted in broken sea walls and massive property loss. Strong winds and extremely heavy precipitation brought zero visibility for travelers, and numerous power outages ensued. The precipitation changed to rain on Cape Cod, reducing the total snowfall, but snow continued in the west. By the time the storm ended, thousands of people were stranded and homeless as a result of the storm. The storm’s power was made apparent by its sustained hurricane-force winds of approximately 86 mph (138 km/h) with gusts to 111 mph (179 km/h) and the formation of an eye-like structure in the middle of the storm. While a typical nor’easter brings steady snow for six to twelve hours, the Blizzard of ’78 brought heavy snow for an unprecedented full 33 hours as it was blocked from heading into the North Atlantic by the strong Canadian high pressure area. An atypical vertical development of storm clouds brought unusual thundersnow to southern New England and Long Island. These storms resulted in lightning and thunder accompanying the snowfall as it fell at 4 inches an hour at times. (AP,Wikipedia)

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