Austin, Texas

This storm was predicted days in advance, but these warnings were mostly ignored by the populace—and there was a work slow-down by state highway crews that contributed to the mess. In fact, I distinctly remember one forecaster who was commenting on a storm that we just went through, (about a foot of the stuff), and he said that Monday could well make it look like child's play. He was right.

I had gone for one of my every-other-day swims at the Kent County Y and stopped at the old Burger Chef on Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick. While I was polishing off my second burger, it began to snow. I knew then and there that this one meant business. I went home and parked my truck in the driveway (as far from the street as possible, which would prove to be a mistake).

Unplowed Providence street with skiers, 1978
An unplowed street on Providence's East Side, traversed by residents on cross-country skis. (Alfredo Esparza, February 1978).

I was employed at Electric Boat at the time, but on the second shift, which was canceled on the day that the blizzard started, so I hunkered down near the woodstove in my basement with a bottle of Pinch. By 5pm, it was snowing at the rate of four inches per hour and the snow was up to the bottom of the mail box on the sidewalk. The news was riddled with reports of cars stranded everywhere, including I-95 which was at a standstill. For the first time in many years, Green Airport actually was forced to close.

The following morning was an exercise in white! It was still snowing and it continued on and off for another day. There was even thunder 'n lightning during the height of the storm early Tuesday morning. Over thirty inches of the white stuff had fallen. Nothing on the ground was visible, including my truck. It took two days just to shovel a path to the street, which, of course, was not plowed. A bulldozer came through on the third day and opened up a one-lane path.

Commerce throughout the state ceased. Virtually all large employers called work off for the full week. In fact, in a rare exception, everyone who could not work that week received unemployment compensation and food stamps. Also, the Providence Journal produced a Blizzard of '78 supplement, (which I still have somewhere) to a later issue of the Sunday Journal.

Fond memories? Well, sort of, but I sure wouldn't want to go through it again!

Originally posted to the alt.rhode_island news group, November 23 and 24, 2000, and February 7, 2003.

Thu, 02/09/2023 - 00:46