Remembering the Blizzard of 1978 - NBC Connecticut
On Ryan's Radar

On Ryan's Radar

First Alert Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan Gives You His Take on Connecticut's Weather

Remembering the Blizzard of 1978

On Ryan's Radar

NBC Connecticut First Alert meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan gives you the science behind the forecast and shares with you an in-depth look at the weather impacting Connecticut.

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Evening forecast on September21th,2019
This message was dug out in the snow on the surface of a lake in Montville, Connecticut, Feb. 8, 1978. It asked for Gov. Ella T. Grasso's help in the state's snow emergency. The author of the message was unknown, but it got across to the governor who saw it as she flew over the lake on a helicopter tour of eastern Connecticut. (AP Photo/Bob Child)

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.