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6 snowstorms that crippled the East Coast

Jan. 11, 2012, 2:51 p.m.
snowstorm 1978

Photo: Stephen Chang/National Weather Service Cleveland

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Great Blizzard of 1978

In early February 1978, a huge swath of the country, including New York City, Massachusetts, the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes region, was hit by a large nor’easter blizzard that raged for two days. The storm brought hundreds of deaths, record-breaking snow accumulation totals and billions of dollars in damages.

In New York City, the snow shut down the city school systems, which rely on a subway system that's nearly impervious to snow-related shut downs. The storm also happened to fall during a new moon, which created a stronger tide that further exacerbated the damages in seaside communities. Giant waves lashed away jetties and cracked sea walls, washing away homes, streets and businesses.

In many places, the snow came down for 33 hours and caught many residents off-guard. In Massachusetts, thousands of workers were stranded in their offices for days afterward, while others were trapped in cars along the side of the road. Record-breaking 24-hour snowfall totals from the storm included 16.1 inches in Grand Rapids, Mich., and 12.2 inches in Dayton, Ohio.