Incoming winter storm reminds Boston of 1978 blizzard

    2:38 PM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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    BOSTON, MA (CNN) -- A dangerous winter storm is targeting the Northeast. Parts of New England are already under a blizzard watch. The storm could drop as much as two feet of snow in some parts, beginning Friday.

    For some, it's bringing back memories of 35 years ago, when the blizzard of 1978 came storming through New England. Now, as this storm moves in, many wonder if this could be a blast from the past.

    On February 6th, 1978, people weren't warned of a blizzard. at the time a 'snow watch' was issued, a relatively common warning in New England.

    Forecasting back them wasn't easy though. There were no fancy computer models. In fact, no computers at all. Bob Thompson with the National Weather Service says, "In 1978, first of all, if you walked into a weather office, it was a very classic sound, that was the click-clacking of the teletypes."

    The National Weather Service predicted six inches of snow, but New England got walloped; 25 inches in Boston, some places got four and a half feet of snow.

    Sounds familiar to forecasts this week? Well there are some similarities, but don't expect the same outcome. Thompson says, "The '78 blizzard stalled for quite a while. This storm too looks like it may stall, but instead of stalling for 2-3 days, it may be more in the order of 12-24 hours."

    Today, there are more accurate forecasts now, thanks to better technology and years of studying weather patterns. Thompson says, "We were relying upon fax machines where we'd get printed, often fuzzy, copies of maps and not nearly the fields or the different levels that we have now...so I think probably most of my staff would probably have a heart attack if suddenly they were brought back to the technology 35 years ago."

    Also, the response is better with more tow trucks on the road and better working relationships between forecasters and first responders.

    Forecasters say the worst of the storm will be Friday night into Saturday morning. Snowfall rates of two to three inches per hour are possible during the height of the storm.

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