This Week In 1978, A Freak Storm Brought Destruction To Maine
As we clean up from the latest storm to pummel New England, we need to remember that exactly 44 years ago many New England states including Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York got slammed by a much worse storm.
According to Wikipedia, the storm, which wreaked havoc on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, started on February 5th, 1978. It got its start as a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina and worked its way northeast through many states including Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
Effect On New England
The storm, which some people named "Storm Larry", brought high winds and near record amounts of snow the New England. Boston received a record 27.1 inches of snow, Providence saw 27.6 inches, and Atlantic City, New Jersey got over 20 inches of snow. Additionally, some areas saw hurricane force winds that topped out at over 80 miles per hour!
Making matters more serious, a new moon made the tide higher than normal, which lead to some serious coastal storm swells and flooding of many rivers.
The loss of life and damage were incredible. Storm killed over 100 people and injured about 4,500 people. The massive storm caused about $520 million in damage. That’s the equivalent of over $2 BILLION in 2022 money.
In addition to those who passed away, the storm disrupted life for hundreds of thousands of people across New England. Many were stranded on highways or lost power.
While Maine was spared much of the worst of the storm, the southern coast of the state was quite heavily hit. Most notably, the storm destroyed the pier at Old Orchard Beach. The new pier, the one we all enjoy to this day, opened in 1980.
Over 10,000 college hockey fans had issues getting out of the TD Garden (back then it was known as the Boston Garden) following the “Beanpot” college hockey tournament. In fact, some found themselves living in the arena. They ate nothing but overpriced hot dogs and slept on the bleachers.
The event was not all doom and gloom, though. With everything closed, Bostonians skied and sledded through the streets and across the frozen Charles River.
It would be another two decades before we saw another storm cause so much damage to New England.