May 112013

Blizzard of 1978

If you lived in Long Island during the 70s, then you likely remember the February of 1978, when the island, and much of the Northeast was blanketed with the worst storm of the decade. Let’s take a look back at the memorable blizzard of 1978 that brought New York to a standstill.

From the moment 1978 arrived, it was clear that there would be no shortage of snow that year. On January 19th, a storm brought 13-17 inches to the island, depending on where you were located. The precipitation caught meteorologists off guard who failed to predict the severity, leaving local residents woefully unprepared. But this event was really just a precursor of bigger things to come.

Less than two weeks later, a little before dawn on Monday, February 6th, a nor’easter rolled into the tri-state area. This time, the weather forecasters predicted 1-2 feet, and a number of schools in the area decided to close for the day as a precautionary measure. That turned out to be a good move.

As the day progressed, winds kicked upwards of 60-80 mph, leading to whiteout conditions as the snow was falling at a rate of 4″ per hour in some locations. Adding insult to injury, residents along the North shore and Peconic Bay began to experience severe flooding. Across the island and in NYC, streets came to a halt, with countless cars literally buried. The blizzard of 1978 had arrived, and it wouldn’t let up for another full day.

The storm continued to pummel the island until late the following evening, with over 2 feet reported in many areas. Snowdrifts were reported as high as eight feet, leaving the majority of locals stranded, in some cases for days until the local roads could be plowed. School remained closed for the entire week, much to the delight of local kids, who filled the time with sledding, snowball fights and building snow forts. Adults were far less pleased as they waited impatiently to return to work, and some semblance of normalcy.

Where were you during the blizzard of 1978? Were you one of the kids that remembers it as a time of great fun, or were your circumstances more serious? We would love to hear all of your recollections of this memorable storm in our comments section below!

(note: you can check out more pictures of Long Island during the blizzard in our image gallery, under “70s events.”)

  13 Responses to “Blizzard of 1978”

  1. I worked at Bloomingdales , garden city, Long Island and was conveniently bunkered down there for 3 days. It was great fun – I manned the store operator station, taking calls from employees who were unable to get to work. We enjoyed cooking our meals in the kitchen of the Ondine restaurant, slept in the beds in the model rooms in the furniture dept and played “pong” on the only video game that existed. We had a surreal and fun time!!

  2. I remember it well, but also recall the Ice Storm shortly before the two snow storms. Mid-January there was a 4-6 inch snow fall, that was washed away a few days later with warmer temperatures, and heavy winter rain. THEN, the rain stopped, and the temperature dropped 30 degrees into the single digits, turning everything to ice. Saturated tree limbs and power lines were falling. Surreal, and dangerous as hell. Black ice on the roads everywhere.

  3. I was a musician in New York and had a house in Deer Park with three other young guys from about 1976 to 1979. We were on the southside of a very large double schoolyard. Two Elementary schools diagonally on the corners with large playing fields in the middle.When the high winds came they blew the drifts across the schoolyard to the front of our house covering the full picture windows. Drifts were probably about 8 feet at the house. As I remember, we were without power for several days and very grateful for our next-door neighbors who had gas and provided us with warm food and the occasional hot shower.

  4. I remember that storm, i was class mother and had to make calls when school was closed in Three village schools in Stony Brook. Between the week of no school due to snow, it was followed by already scheduled predidents week. What a winter. That was before internet and cell phones. The previous winter there was major ice storms, where i lost my leaders and gutters.

  5. Will never forget the storm, my third son was only 2 months old at the time; because of the severity of the storm, I ran out of formula and had to put him on regular milk (much earlier that was normal). Luckily, we not only had plenty of fresh milk in the house, but with 3 sons, I always kept powdered milk as backup.

    Also, my husband was caught at work and did not get home for almost a week. Of, course my older boys loved it.

  6. We lived in Albertson and remember 2 storms within a very short time. We built an igloo on our front lawn – which you could walk inside – a lot of fun

  7. I was a Member of the local Fire Department and still a senior in High school. Schools were closed here in the Hudson Valley for 3 days . so I spent 36 hours at the Fire station where we used Fire Trucks to get the nurses and doctors who were local to the two local hospitals to work there shifts. We did have a fire call in the middle of the night , I think it was around 2 a.m. and it was snowing so hard couldn’t even see clearly. I was amazed on how many cars were on the road in the middle of a Blizzard so early in the morning. We had Chains on the Fire Engine’s so we could get around. I’ll never forget it. Since we were Volunteers we had no beds, so I slept up on the hose bed on one of the Engines. No pillows or blankets either. But the station was warm.

  8. I was in my very early 20’s when I worked at Great Eastern (I believe) my boss Mr. Simon and Mr. B. were asking if someone could stay and cashier for the crazies that came shopping that day. Sure, I said. Big mistake! Stuck there for 2 days, ate in the snack bar slept in the carpet dept. Me and 6 men. Then my poor dad was finally able to get out of his parking lot to come get me! Along with 2 of my fellow workers! It was crazy!!

  9. I remember the Blizzard of 1978 as a time of fun. Living in Wyandanch and school in Huntington Station having the week off was full of snow time…forts, friends. Our fort was huge we had a long extension and brought the TV to the fort. Great memories as a kid on Long Island.

  10. Remember it well. The kids were young and enjoyed building forts for snowball fights. With about 15 kids on the block there was always someone to play with. My husband is a volunteer fireman on Hicksville. The year he spent 9 days and nights at the firehouse on standby. Very difficult to get fire trucks and ambulances through unplowed streets.The ice storm was the worst..we had no power but thank God we have gas so we could cook and bake.

  11. I was visiting NYC Feb.’78 – actually stayed with my buddy Serge in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We were in the City and got caught at his friends place for 2-3 days.. Thank goodness she had plenty of food, clothes that fit us and power.. After that I decided as great as NY is , I was NOT going to permanently live in any snow zone (my Dad was born in Canada and grew up in the Northern US – I heard the horror stories of bad winter weather. I like to visit snow zones for 1-2 weeks. Then I’m outta there.

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