A story of surviving a not so wonderful Winter Wonderland
|One would think after growing up and living in New England for nearly two decades common sense would dictate never underestimate the weather here in New England or trust the local meteorologist’s forecast. It was after all February and we were on the back side of the winter or so we thought. I don’t recall much of that particular year’s winter, it is a fuzzy mix of many winter memories I can recall as a kid.
We were not expecting much and even if we were, we were lifelong natives of the area and were no stranger to the heavy winter storms that would pound us during the winter season. Winter Storms were no big deal, as children we looked forward to the blizzards and the winter fun and festivities that would follow when the storm ended, but this one was different. The weather forecast had predicted no more than only a few inches. So when the snow began to fall that dreadful February morning it was just another winter nuisance snow storm. No one expected the storm to last thirty three hour or to dump nearly thirty inches of wet heave snow. That was the official data and stat’s that was released when all was said and done; Twenty seven inches of heave wet snow had fallen.
But that is not the way I remember it. The storm hit us one week before my eighteenth birthday. In those eighteen years I can recall many storms that dumped massive amounts of snow that provided me with a multitude of wonderful childhood winter fun and memories, but never one that literally crippled society and brought it to a screeching halt.
The way I recall that great New England Blizzard and winter storm is much different from what the public is now told in the history books. Only those who lived through it know the real truth about how hard we were hit by that storm. It was actually two storms that hit us back to back one right after the other, much like that of the perfect storm of the nineteen nineties that inspired the movie “The Perfect Storm” with the exception that the perfect storm of the nineties dumped rain not heavy wet snow.
A few years prior to the blizzard my family had moved across town to the water front and beach area just a few hundred yards away from the beach, the twenty foot high sea wall did little to nothing holding back the raging Atlantic ocean flooding the water front area. My parents house was elevated on a small hill was spared the wrath of the ferocious waves that pounded the coast and water front.
By nightfall the end of the first day the storm had intensified and continued throughout the night, daybreak brought a calm eerie lull and had dumped near two feet of snow on the area. Nothing unusual here for us native New Englanders, we’d seen it a thousand times throughout the years. We thought it was over. I ventured out and trudged across town to my old neighborhood where all my friends lived and hung around. Within a few hours the snow began again growing more and more intense and continued throughout the second night. I was trapped and stranded, unable to get across town to my parents home, I bunkered down and spent the second night at my buddy Rocky’s home. A phone call to my parents assured them I was safe and sound and would quarter at my buddy’s home to relieve any worries or concerns they might have had for my safety and wellbeing.
The third morning brought another lull and I embarked on a trip home to my parents house trudging through what seemed to be unplowed streets with snow banks and snowdrifts on the sides of the streets towering over my head some as high as fifteen feet high. I had never seen anything like it. I was astonished at the sights and in awe and amazement of the towering mountains of snow all around. What was usually a twenty minute walk across town took me hours.
I was horrified at the sight when I had arrived at my home and parents house. My house was set back off the main street by thirty yards with a paved driveway leading in from the street. The sidewalks sat about several feet above street level. I stood there in complete astonishment at the 20 foot high snow bank that separated the street from the driveway entrance. I somehow managed to scale the small mountain to its summit only to again be horrified dishoarded but still awed and amazed at the sight that beheld my eyes. There was just no way I could trudge through thirty yards of four feet of snow to reach the safety of my parents home.
I stood there on the summit of that twenty foot high snow bank exhausted from my trip across town. It was then I saw the sign from the Almighty, somewhat buried and hidden but still barely visible below the surface of the snow. The four foot high chain link fence that ran the length of the driveway was my bridge. I trudged down the back side of the mountain and somehow managed to swim and trudge through the snow until I reached the fence. I never attempted to tightrope walk, this was my first time and I fell off numerous times and somehow managed to climb back up and crawl and walk across the top of the fence with four feet of snow below my feet for thirty yards and finally swim and trudge through the final thirty feet of four feet deep snow over to the porch of my home.
I was home and safe at last my journey was over. I had survived the Blizzard of Seventy Eight. Unless you’ve lived it you cannot begin comprehend the Blizzard of Seventy Eight.