The National Weather Service labels a blizzard as severe when winds reach 45 miles per hour, snowfall is dense, and the temperature drops to degrees. What started smacking Boston on February 6,1978, was no mere severe blizzard. Winds hit 83 m.p.h., generating a tidal surge and coastal flooding. Snow drifts towered fifteen feet. The blizzard took fifty-four lives, destroyed two thousand homes, sent ten thousand to shelters, and did more than $1 billion of damage. Driving was forbidden for six days to all but essential relief workers.
Some of us, who didn’t thaw or dig out till April, hardly noticed. The stripper next door to me, lawfully restrained from her daily grind downtown, had Van Halen’s eponymous debut, officially scheduled for release on the tenth, and blasted it, “Runnin’ With the Devil” in particular, for the duration. It wasn’t just that the cradle was rocked - the whole neighborhood was.