40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

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40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by Atkinson_Railroad » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:42 pm

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78. I was a Marine Guard stationed at Ft. Meade, Maryland
and remember NSA’s parking lot had this incredibly massive pile of snow built up from trying to keep the very large parking area cleared.
Letters and calls from back home in Michigan talked of rarely used “V” plows barely making a path to drive through.

Where, and what do you remember about that great snow storm?

National Weather Service URL to the story: http://www.weather.gov/dtx/blizzard1978


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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by SteveM » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:48 pm

We were sitting in the dorm, looking out the window at kids jumping out of second- and third-floor windows into the massive snow drifts.

As we were watching, a kid I will only refer to as "Sully" opens the window and before anyone could do anything, he sits on the ledge and jumps out.

Little did he realize that the reason the drifts on the other side were so big was because ALL of the snow on our side had blown over there. The buildings formed a V shape that funneled the wind thru the quad.

Sully didn't have the good fortune to land on the frozen ground - he landed on a steel grate and broke both of his heels.


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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by stephenc » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:47 pm

I was just a little kid , but I remember having to go up on the barn roofs to shovel the snow off them , not a real fond memory as I also remember getting beaten black and blue after I fell off the roof twice and didn't want to try for a third time .

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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by spro » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:22 pm

Shoveling snow off of the roofs. I did that too. Didn't think it would come to where I'd mention that but man, it happened. The gutters which are normally okay, trapped the heavy snow and were near useless afterward. Huge piles of snow on asphalt shingles, must be done. While there seems a relax in temperature, the rain will wash the salt away. Virginia has a way of warning. It is just extended now. I saw people wearing short pants and Tee shirts a two days ago. Good for them but.. it ain't over by a long stretch.

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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by neanderman » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:07 am

Lord, it was cold! We lost power in March due to ice on the high tension lines. One night, I slept with three wool blankets!

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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by Harold_V » Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:45 am

Reading the comments takes me back to the winter of '49. I was just a boy of 10, but I have vivid memories of the mounded snow and prolonged cold. Roads were closed, with living drawn to a slow pace. That, of course, was in the Salt Lake Valley, in Utah, but I think it was much wider spread than that. Anyone have any thoughts in that regard?
Sorry to walk on this thread, so if my post is unwanted, please make note and I'll move my comments. No harm intended.

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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by Atkinson_Railroad » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:04 am

Harold, after I posted the question it did occur to me that it was somewhat a region specific topic.
(The storm taking place in the Midwest, to Eastern half of the United States in this instance.)
I suppose the question tests memory which some people have, and others have no recollection.
And of course there are people reading the forum that were not even alive in 1978.

One can only imagine some of the hardship a snowstorm occurring in 1949 would have been like.
The availability of the more advanced forms of snow removal equipment surely didn’t exist then.
And any kind of snow mobile at that time would have been quite crude as well I would think.

In steering back to the ’78 storm; a coworker I had worked with in Columbus, Ohio remembered going into
work during the height of the storm (he was one of those puritan ethic work maniacs ; ) telling me about how he
had to dig down into the snow to reach the door knob to gain access to the shop.
After entering the shop, he noticed no-one was there and went back home. What a hard working goofball he was.


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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by earlgo » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:02 am

We lost our power and my wife, 2 toddlers and a baby, and I, temporarily moved in with my brother, his wife and 3 kids. It took 4 days before we could return home. And a fun time was had by all.
Thank goodness this latest wasn't that bad for us.
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Re: 40th anniversary of the blizzard of ’78

Post by steamin10 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:40 pm

EGAD! I did not realize it was that long ago.

I had an interest in being a private entrepreneur, and was running a pipe boom 2 ton wrecker at the time, moonlighting over a steel mill job. When the storm hit with its wind and sleet I got a call that the state police were needing all hands on deck to keep the 'new' expressway open and hazard free. Just 5 miles away in portage there were several semi trucks off the road so I hoped in the old girl, fired up, and went looking for trouble. Long story short, I found it. 3 trucks on the edge of the shallow drainage ditch sucked in by the edge ice, a state squad, and me with barely any traffic, as any sane people had abandoned the idea of travel for the night. As I pulled up the officer waved me down and promptly got skidded by the wind across a traffic lane. It struck me as funny until I stepped from the running board onto the pavement, and promptly kissed the pavement. Did I say it was slick? We hatched a plan and I got lined up on the front most semi, put out my scotch plates and started to winch him out of the grass he was spinning in, when a yell from the trooper, 'HERE COMES ANOTHER ONE!" broke the silent snowfall. A lit fusee went airborn and he ran for the side of the road. Out of the darkness I could see all the side markers of another rig coming completely across the lanes at good speed. I dove under the wrecker as I couldnt run on the ice and watched the cab and bumper miss me by just a foot or so and slip down the road at right angles to traffic. After dusting myself off the rig returned HEADING THE WRONG WAY and I yelled at the driver, asking how he never touched the cab to the trailer. He was laughing and said he didnt know, he was busy.

I spent 4 hours in the same place trying to keep people from dying in the slip and slide conditions that fed cars into snow banks and frozen grass, all the while never seeing a plow truck or any other service vehicles. The next day I got complimented by some higher up for helping in the emergency, and that our efforts had spared a lot of damage and possibly saved injuries getting the obstructions to traffic under control. Myself, I concluded people are stupid, will always do dumb things, and I would never insert myself into such danger again without more control. I sold the wrecker in the spring and never looked back.
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