Forty years ago one of the biggest blizzards to strike Connecticut dropped nearly 2 feet of snow along with wind gusts of near hurricane force. At Bradley Airport only 16.9 inches of snow was recorded but many towns measured 24 inches including Thompson, Norfolk, Coventry and Hamden.
Wind gusts of 60 knots (about 70 mph) in Groton whipped the snow into monstrous drifts. The sudden onset of the storm stranded thousands of people all across the state. The storm was forecast quite well. This 48-hour forecast from the Limited Fine Mesh model (LFM) is remarkable for its accuracy considering how primitive computer modeling was.
The Hartford Weather Service Office in Hartford transmitted several messages from Governor Ella Grasso during the storm.
The storm is remarkable for the amount of disruption it caused. Many people didn't believe the weather forecast after a large snowstorm forecast bust two weeks prior. With most of the snow coming during a short period of time in the afternoon people were stuck on roads across the state. Along the coast significant coastal flooding caused severe flooding in many towns.
The drifts of snow from the storm are what most people remember - along with the highways that turned into parking lots as cars were quickly buried by the snow. There have certainly been storms that have produced more snow (the 2013 blizzard, for example) but the 1978 storm has a special place in Connecticut weather lore.