North Kingstown, Rhode Island

I was a young man driving a delivery van for an office supply house in Providence at that time. I recall being on Route 10 that morning of February 6th when I saw the first flakes fall. I also remember hearing a forecast for ten to twelve inches of snow, but little did we know just how ferocious the storm would actually get. The weather was deteriorating quickly by mid-day and I was sent home from Providence at 2pm. Five or six hours later I was still in Providence heading east on 195. At that point it had become obvious that we were all parked and going no farther. I decided to abandon my Chevy Vega and walk home to Seekonk. Fortunately, I was young, strong and dressed for the weather because of my job. Less than 100 feet from my car, I realized I was going to need my sunglasses to shield my eyes from the howling wind and driving snow and went back to retrieve them. Of course this was well after dark (bright light was certainly not the problem).

Stalled traffic on Washington Bridge, Providence, February 1978
"Cars, trucks and rescue vehicles are stopped dead in their tracks on Route 195 East along the Washington Bridge." (Anestis Diakopoulos/Providence Journal-Bulletin, February 8, 1978).

The trek home was an unforgettable and surreal experience. The highway was clogged with tractor-trailers, cars, even plow trucks, all stuck because the vehicle in front of each was stuck. Many were already unrecognizable white mounds. Biggest mess I've ever seen on a highway before or since... and of course, no cell phones! I walked up an exit ramp onto Route 44 in East Providence. The city streets were empty of moving vehicles but there were a few scattered pedestrians. I met another young guy walking in the same direction and we walked together for a while. A strange experience shared with a stranger, walking down the center of a street usually bustling with traffic. I cannot remember his name now. We parted ways at the intersection of Pawtucket Avenue (114A) and Taunton Avenue (44). He went North, I continued East. It was quite dark. Apparently there were scattered power outages in that area. There were no people to be seen now, no moving cars, no lights... very eerie... getting late. In fact, I don't believe I saw one moving vehicle since I left mine hours earlier. I don't know what time it was at this point but as I walked on I passed one of the car dealerships (Tasca I believe it was, this was before they moved further East to the current Seekonk location). The large front show-room window was blown out and an alarm was going off (electricity?). This all felt very creepy on what was a normally busy street, now a dark deserted road in a blizzard. I kept walking straight down 44... quickly. Finally, maybe a mile more up the road, I heard an approaching vehicle from behind me... the intrepid driver was conquering the deep ruts with chains on his tires! He pulled beside me and offered me a ride, saving me from walking the last mile ahead of me. The most intense snow storm I've ever seen here. Made for a bizarre night, but created some fond, unusual and lasting memories. I'm thankful I was in my early 20s, had a warm coat, hat and gloves... and those sunglasses.

Keep emergency supplies in your car, people; you never know for sure what mother nature has in mind.

Received via email, February 15, 2012.

Wed, 03/15/2023 - 00:06